Canadian Manufacturing

Levis saved 1B litres of water with new jeans production process

Study shows nearly 3,800 liters of water are used to make a pair of jeans

March 17, 2015  by Canadian Staff

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif—Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.) says it has saved 1 billion liters of water since 2011 through its “Water<Less” process, which reduces the water used in garment finishing by up to 96 per cent.

This announcement coincides with the release of LS&Co.’s new Product Lifecycle Assessment (LCA), an update on the company’s groundbreaking 2007 study that examined the environmental impact of LS&Co. products. The new study analyzed the complete product lifecycle, probing deeper into the environmental impacts of cotton in key growing regions, apparel production and distribution in a range of locations, and consumer washing and drying habits in key markets.

The study shows that of the nearly 3,800 liters of water used throughout the lifetime of a pair of jeans, cotton cultivation (68 per cent) and consumer use (23 per cent) continue to have the most significant impact on water consumption.

To reduce the impact of cotton consumption, LS&Co. is working with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) to train farmers to grow cotton using less water. Based on the latest BCI harvest data available, in 2013, cotton farmers in China reduced their water use by 23 per cent compared with farmers who were not using BCI techniques. LS&Co. plans to continue working with its global suppliers with the goal of sourcing approximately 75 per cent Better Cotton by 2020, up from six per cent today.


Lifecycle of a pair of Levis jeans:

  • Water Consumption: Nearly 3,800 liters of water are used to make a pair of jeans. Fiber production, predominantly cotton (68 per cent), consumes the most water, followed by consumer care (23 per cent).
  • Climate Change: Of the 33.4 kg of carbon dioxide produced during the lifecycle of a pair of jeans, consumer care (37 per cent) and fabric production (27 per cent) generate the most significant climate change impact and energy use.
  • Expanded Scope: By expanding our scope to include leading cotton-producing countries, we’ve seen the water consumption from cotton cultivation increase, since the amount of water used to grow cotton varies significantly across the world.
  • Impact: By wearing jeans 10 times before washing, American consumers can reduce their water and climate change impact by 77 per cent, U.K. and French consumers by 75 per cent and Chinese consumers by 61v.