Planet, People, Products and Production – Four key areas denim industry leaders Levi Strauss & Co. both pride themselves and focus on when it comes to sustainability, positive change and the importance of spreading the wider, important message.
Sustainability is something we at SurfStitch are very passionate about. We love everything about our favourite labels giving back to the environment and taking positive steps forward in a world that needs to see change, so when the opportunity arose to join Levi’s Service Corps Program Ambassador, Luke Alebakis, on his journey to Mexico to learn more about how exactly the company is putting their sustainable practices into action, how could we say no!?
Read on and follow Luke’s inspiring story to learn all about the brands heritage and dedication of giving back, plus get an in depth look at their Worker Well-being initiative.
"In May, I was very fortunate to be selected as a Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.) Service Corps Program Ambassador and travel to Torreon, Mexico to spend a week visiting local factories that produce Levi’s® products. The program is aimed at connecting LS&Co. employees around the world with the makers of our products. It also gave us a first-hand look at our Worker Well-being initiative, where we work with suppliers and local organisations to implement programs focused on financial empowerment, health and family well-being, and equality and acceptance.
The latter is just one way our approach to sustainability is manifested and itself is a throwback to our philanthropic heritage.
In 1854, a year after arriving in San Francisco, Levi Strauss made his first recorded donation of $5 to the Orphan Asylum Society of the City of San Francisco. It would be a defining moment in terms of the philanthropic nature of Levi Strauss & Co.
It’s so gratifying to work for a company where caring and giving back has such a long engrained history; it’s literally sewn into every pair of jeans we make.
We look at giving back and sustainability in four areas: People, Planet, Products and Production. In each area we look at how we can make a positive impact, and effect positive change, not only for our company, but for the wider industry and environment.
We were the first multinational apparel company to establish terms of engagement to protect the basic needs and rights of workers as well as the environment. We’ve also been strongly connected to HIV/AIDS education since the 1980s and have long striven for equality for all – in all sense of the word.
We look at pioneering initiatives and programs that reduce the use of energy, water and chemicals in not just our supply chain but across the wider apparel industry. And when we make advances in sustainability, we share it with the industry, because we know that together we will make a far greater impact we ever could as a company doing it alone."
"To us, fashion is a merging of art, innovation and sustainability. Innovation is embedded in our history, from our rivet patent in 1873 to our Levi’s® Water<Less™ processes – which significantly reduces the amount of water used in the finishing stages of jeans – and beyond.
The environment under which our products are manufactured is crucial for us to understand and constantly upon.
And this is why I was so excited about the prospect of seeing much of this framework in action.
During my trip, we spent time with one of our suppliers that have implemented our Worker Well-Being (WWB) initiative within their business. The vendor was so inspired by WWB that they developed their own foundation aimed at giving back to the local community, as well as working with its 5000 plus employees to create a better working environment.
The Levi Strauss Foundation has partnered with their foundation to make significant improvements. We were fortunate enough to visit a local kindergarten where we spent time with the students and taught them about Project WET, a water education and conservation program. We also painted a new classroom that had been built by the funds of these two foundations. For a lot of us, this was one of our favourite moments of the entire trip – getting the chance to physically do something that would improve the lives of these little kids.
We also got to spend time with some of the factory workers, getting to speak to them about how Worker Well-being had impacted their lives. The worker I spoke to mentioned to me that the program had changed her life by giving her a voice not only at work to feel confident talking to management and discussing issues, but also at home, where she was able to better manage her household with new found confidence. It was so powerful to see how an initiative at the work place was having such a positive impact outside of the factory walls.
I urge you, the next time you pick up your favourite pair of Levi’s® jeans, to think about the wonderful people who have touched them before you – and the work that LS&Co. has been doing to ensure that you can wear those jeans with pride.
We will continue to strive to leave this world in a better place than we found it; through our people, our planet, our products and our production."