Jeans giant Levi Strauss & Co has revealed the second year of its global fellowship programme will address the climate impact of the apparel industry in a bid to help transition the sector to a low-carbon future.
The Collaboratory is an annual fellowship programme for entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs who see design and sustainability as inextricably linked and are working to create a more sustainable apparel industry. Each year the programme tackles different social and environmental sustainability challenges facing the industry.
Fellows will have an opportunity to apply for up to US$50,000 in grant funding from Levi Strauss & Co to pursue innovative approaches to reduce climate impact – in their organisation or in the apparel industry – in one of four areas: product design; raw materials; manufacturing; or consumer use.
“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,” says Levi Strauss. “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 US household consumes in three days.”
But, the company says it realises 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.”
Last year, the company joined forces with ten fellows in the Collaboratory’s inaugural class to tackle the apparel industry’s water impact and is already seeing results. One fellow, Mo Elliot, is changing the fabric of one of his T-shirts in his spring 2018 product line to include recycled fibres, saving an estimated 1.5m gallons of water.
“Our hope is to inspire and support the next generation of apparel leaders to choose what’s right over what’s easy,” explains 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.”