recycled denim

Using Recycled Denim to Make a Difference

Ashley Carlson, Unzipped Staff
Levi Strauss & Co.
December 16, 2020

When we say sustainability is woven into everything we do here at LS&Co., we mean everything.

You can see this commitment in our ambitious targets to reduce emissions and the amount of water and chemicals we use, our move to renewable energy sources, the ways we support our people with safe and fair working conditions and our work to promote a more circular system for apparel.

You can see it in our products. Our jeans are built to last, which is good for the environment because repurposing jeans uses a fraction of the energy and water it takes to make new ones. That’s why we’ve been encouraging consumers to repair and recycle their denim through our Tailor Shops and through Levi’s® SecondHand.

You can even see it in how we give back. Here are just a few examples of how we’ve been partnering with nonprofits to both empower consumers to recycle denim and support communities around the world.

Recicla tu Jean

The team in Perú recently completed their fifth year participating in Recicla tu Jean, a pioneering community and social program where people can donate their gently used denim to people in need.

The program is simple. Retail teams across the country place a large, branded box in our stores so people can donate their gently worn jeans of any brand, style or size. To encourage consumer participation, we share a $15 (USD) voucher with each donor to help them find their next pair of jeans. recicla tu jean

The teams then hand the denim to our nonprofit partner Cáritas del Perú, who ensure the garments reach those who are most in need in every corner of the country. Our consumers can trace their donation and see who received their jeans, which helps bring the program to life. Many donors become evangelists for the program, encouraging their friends and family to contribute as well.

The program was first introduced to the team in 2008, when the Andes wholesale leader, Mauricio Indacochea, brought it to the team’s attention. More than 2,000 pairs of jeans were donated in its first year alone. Since then, other companies including IBM, Visa, HP and Michael Page have placed donation bins at their offices, making it a true community effort.

To date, the Recicla tu Jean campaign has helped more than 35,000 people in need and living in extreme poverty.

“Our teams in Perú are key to the success of the program,” said Carla Ossio, Marketing Coordinator in Perú. “We divided our teams into smaller groups who would promote it with anyone that walked in the door, as well as outside of work with their neighbors and family. Last year, 30% of the jeans collected were because of our employees.”

Carpet of Life

In 2020, the LSE Brand Environment team led a repurpose and community initiative with Carpet of Life, a Belgian nonprofit that turns donated clothing into carpets handcrafted by a community of 56 artisan women in the Moroccan Sahara.

carpet of lifeAfter winning the Sustainability Award at the end of last year, the team used their prize to ship bags of excess Levi’s® jeans and tees to Carpet of Life for the women to weave into works of art. Once the weavers in Morocco received the clothes, they knotted the denim with love and attention into beautiful carpets, each telling a new story.

Now finished, those stunning carpets will soon decorate our new Brussels office kitchens.

“The Brand Environment team can’t wait to see those new rugs and is proud to share our company values of sustainability, giving back and women’s empowerment with Carpet of Life!” said Foske Lof, Brand Environment Project Manager and coleader of this initiative. “It is a great way to bring to life the Levi’s® marketing approach of Recycle, Repurpose, Reimagine, and living in your Levi’s® for longer!”