Finding the perfect pair of jeans can often seem like a daunting and near impossible task; an intricate blend of style and practicality, the perfect jeans are not too tight but not too loose; not too outlandish, but not too plain; and finally, and perhaps most importantly, high quality without breaking the bank. It’s a tough balance, but once you find the right pair of jeans, you never want to take them off. Now, imagine your perfect pair of jeans were also produced in a sustainable way. Your perfect pair of jeans, just got better.

After introducing a WaterLess jean in 2011, Levi Strauss & Co, more commonly known as Levi’s, has dipped its finger yet again in the pool of sustainable fashion. WaterLess Jeans, released last year, was a collection of denim manufactured with a reduced amount of water used throughout the finishing process, the process used in order to make jeans feel nice and soft. Levi’s managed to reduced the amount of water used by an average of 11 gallons per pair, according to CBS Los Angeles. How did they do it? The company simply removed water from the process, and used stones instead. What was the reaction from buyers? They couldn’t tell the difference, minus the hang-tag that encouraged less washing at home, the use of cold water and line drying in order to further the sustainable message.

Using post-consumer waste to produce a leading brand of sustainable jeans

After taking the initial step towards a greener production line, Levi’s has recently unveiled a new line of jeans set to hit Canadian shelves in 2013, and this time they’re going greener than ever before. Aptly named WasteLess, the new line-up which will include both men and women’s jeans, are made, in part, with post-consumer waste. According to the Huffington Post, the company will use 3.5 million recycled products in order to create the line, the equivalent of approximately eight 12-20 ounce plastic items per pair of jeans.

Will this change be as subtle as the waterless denim introduced last year? Well, an article in Bloomberg’s Business Week Magazine suggests that the colours from the material used, called “beer-bottle brown” and “soda-pop green” do create a different sheen on the denim, visible mostly on the inside however. Kara Nicholas, VP of Design and Marketing at Cone Denim, the company that produces fabric for Levi’s, also pointed that recycled fibres aren’t at strong or consistent as “virgin” fibers: ““In the recycled market, the problem is not the supply but the quality of the supply.” Cone Denim is now running the mills as well; problem solved.

Looking ahead to a greener future

WasteLess jeans are only the beginning for Levis, says James Curleigh, global president of Levi’s: “With this collection, we’re doing our own small part by taking waste and making something new from it. We don’t just want to reduce our impact on the environment; we want to leave it better than we found it.” According to One Green Planet, Levi’s conducted a life-cycle assessment of popular products in 2007 only to find that 49% of the water used over the course of a pair of jeans occurred in cotton farming and 45% came from consumers washing the garments. On top of that, 60% of the energy used was by consumers laundering the products. The results of this study led to the desire to reduce the amount of water and energy used throughout the entire life-cycle of the jean, from ethical production to spreading the word to customers about cutting back on washing at home. Levi’s intends to spread its green efforts throughout its brand, and the industry.

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Image credit: Angelo Losanno