Levi’s is clearly trying to establish themselves as an ecological leader in the fashion industry. Soon after we posted the story about Re/Done transforming old Levi’s into new jeans, Levi’s announced it was accepting unwanted clothing for recycling. The company is trying to do its part to reduce the over 24 billion pounds of clothing, shoes, and textiles Americans discard into our landfills every year. Simply bring your garments into any Levi’s store or outlet and you will receive a 20% off coupon. The clothing, through a partnership with I:Collect, is then collected and repurposed into things such as building insulation, cushions, and new fibers for clothing.
This is all part of the iconic American brand’s effort to be involved in the circular economy. Currently most industries, especially fashion, participate in a linear economy; resources are gathered, products are created, and then the goods are discarded. Levi’s estimates that for a pair of jeans the lifespan averages 3 years before they are thrown away. In a circular economy, the idea is to reduce the resources needed to produce goods by remaking, reselling, repairing, or recycling the original product. The closer you are to the inside of the circle, the less the original product is degraded from generation to generation. Along with the recycling service, Levi’s also announced its intention to move closer to the inner circle by 2020. That is the year the company has pegged to begin the merchandising of new items created exclusively from resources in recycled jeans. There are some major R&D hurdles to get to that point though, including separating cotton and polyester in textile blends and strengthening the cotton. In the short term, if you have a favorite pair of jeans that no longer looks fashionable, over 80 Levi’s stores have on-site tailors that can repair, resize, or restyle them so you can enjoy the jeans for a few years more. Head past the break for a great infographic created by Levi’s: