LS&Co. Collaboratory: Joining Forces to Tackle Climate Change

Levi Strauss & Co.
November 9, 2017

No question – climate change is one of the most important issues of our time. If left unchecked, it will have economic, social, and environmental consequences for our business and the communities in which we operate.

But, climate change is a daunting challenge. It cannot be solved by any one company, industry, or government alone. At Levi Strauss & Co., we believe we need to act – and are looking to other leaders to stand with us.

Today, the Levi Strauss & Co. Collaboratory announces its plans for year two of the program – to address the climate impact of the apparel industry. We’re looking for entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs with innovative ideas for reducing their organization’s or the apparel industry’s climate impact.

The Collaboratory is a fellowship program focused on inspiring and advancing bold solutions to some of the biggest sustainability challenges facing our industry today. Real change happens when we work together, so we’re excited to partner with socially and environmentally responsible leaders to craft tangible business solutions for their organizations and the apparel industry at large.

Last year, we joined forces with 10 fellows in the Collaboratory’s inaugural class to tackle the apparel industry’s water impact. Already, we’re seeing some interesting results. One fellow, Mo Elliot, is changing the fabric of one of his top-selling T-shirts in his spring 2018 product line to include recycled fibers, saving an estimated 1.5 million gallons of water.

This year, we’re looking to inspire solutions that help transition the apparel industry to a low-carbon future. The apparel industry can’t ignore its own sizeable carbon footprint; in fact, over its lifetime a single pair of jeans generates CO2 emissions equivalent to driving a car 69 miles, and uses as much water as the average U.S. household consumes in three days.

At Levi Strauss & Co., we’re committed to reducing our emissions and transitioning to renewable energy — and, together with the new Collaboratory class, we’re ready to ask ourselves some tough questions about how we can do better as a company and an industry.

The Collaboratory model is a win-win endeavor on all sides. Our fellows learn from the experience, passion, and mentorship of LS&Co. leaders, outside experts and their own peers, all of whom are prepared to help this next generation of fashion leaders advance their ideas for reducing their climate impact. The fellowship also gives LS&Co. a chance to test out creative ideas that address important sustainability challenges on a smaller scale before attempting broader implementation.

One of the most important motivations behind the Collaboratory is to share the “profits through principles” approach that is at the bedrock of everything we do here at LS&Co.

“Our hope is to inspire and support the next generation of apparel leaders to choose what’s right over what’s easy,” said Becca Prowda, Director of Community Affairs for Levi Strauss & Co. “We partner with up-and-coming changemakers because we believe that lasting change is possible when you build in responsibility from the beginning.”

At LS&Co. we see it as our responsibility to constantly seek out better and more sustainable ways to make the clothes we love and wear – but we know we can’t do it alone.