A Roadmap for Change

Levi Strauss & Co.
December 5, 2012

You may have seen reports of a campaign by Greenpeace International, targeting apparel companies and the chemicals used in apparel manufacturing. It’s an important and complex issue.

At Levi Strauss & Co., we’ve long been known for our fact-based work in the area of sustainability, and you’ll find examples throughout our history. We’ve focused not just on inventing and reinventing blue jeans, but also on challenging ourselves to craft them in ways that are better for the environment, for those who wear them,and for the people who make them.

Along the way, we’ve taken leadership roles. We were one of the first companies to develop EPA-level water quality requirements for all of the factories that make our products. And, as one of the first companies to establish a Restricted Substances List, we’ve taken great care to ban chemicals that potentially cause harm to consumers.

We want to be clear: Our products are safe for consumers. Testing demonstrates that the chemicals analyzed on Levi’s® products are not known to constitute any direct health risk to the wearers of the clothing.

We’re also taking other actions. We’re part of the Better Cotton Initiative, which is reducing chemical use in cotton production. And we’re active in the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a multi-stakeholder, industry collaboration working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world.

In terms of the chemicals used to produce our jeans, we’ve decided to take a significant step –recognizing that to truly change the system, we can’t act alone.

Earlier this year, we joined key industry partners Nike, Adidas, H&M and others on the Joint Roadmap toward Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals. The goal? Zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020.

This is not going to be easy.  It will require investment, innovation and perseverance to develop additional green alternatives and change the way this industry has “always done things.” The apparel supply chain is long, complex and global – with suppliers manufacturing for multiple brands, often located in industrial parks with multiple industries, not just apparel brands.

It is going to take more than us and the other 8 companies that have joined this Roadmap effort to change the industry.  We are encouraging other companies and stakeholders to work with us on this path, which has clear milestones and positive, long-term outcomes.

We also know from experience that leading change can thrust us in the spotlight, inviting opinions and feedback. Our steadfast focus is on what it’s always been – working with the most informed, capable and dedicated partners who will help us collectively achieve responsible and lasting change.

As is the case with any complex undertaking, there’s more than one way to get where we’re going. But we believe the Joint Roadmap – with its transparent milestones and commitment to substantive progress – is the right long term approach for Levi Strauss & Co.

We’ve always put more pressure on ourselves than others have to find new and better ways to make the products you love. That commitment will never change.