‘Uniform of Progress’: Levi’s Now Advocates Freezing Your Jeans to Save Water & the Planet
In September, we brought you the controversial Levi’s ad that glorified revolution. It was then that we introduced you to their new slogan, the “uniform of progress.” Well, progress’s jumpsuit has struck again, this time with the curious idea that you should freeze your jeans, not wash them.
The idea comes from the company’s new “Water<Less” push, which encourages its cotton growers, its jean-makers, and its customers to conserve water. Why? Global warming of course. And what better way to not use water than to not wash your jeans.
The story was a New York Times hit this week:
It has introduced a brand featuring stone-washed denim smoothed with rocks but no water. It is sewing tags into all of its jeans urging customers to wash less and use only cold water.
To customers seeking further advice, Levi Strauss suggests washing jeans rarely, if at all — the theory being that putting them in the freezer will kill germs that cause them to smell.
And here’s the explanation as to why: “It fears that water shortages caused by climate change may jeopardize the company’s very existence in the coming decades by making cotton too expensive or scarce.”
So what about the “freezing jeans” method? Does it work? Meet this guy, from Apartmenttherapy.com, who is quite passionate about his jeans freezing and takes you step-by-step through the process. Apparently, it’s “what everybody does:”
The ABC News piece mentioned in the video, where the college students wears the same pair of jeans for 15 months and then they measure the bacteria levels, is for real. The student is Canadian Josh Le, and here’s what he found:
“If you don’t wash your clothing, it raises questions. I was very careful with odor. I did the smell test in the morning,” Le said.
If the jeans smelled, he might stick them in the freezer overnight or let them hang for a few hours.
His parents never quite understood what he was doing.
“My parents, they’re a bit old-fashioned,” Le said. “My dad’s words were, ‘Back in my day, people washed clothes after each wear.’”
After 15 months and one week, the time came to test the jeans. He enlisted the help of his professor, Rachel McQueen.
She and Le first swabbed the jeans before washing them. Then they washed the jeans and let him wear them for 13 more days, similar to a more normal amount of time between denim washes, and tested them again.
“There did not appear to be differences in the bacterial carriage depending on whether the jeans had been worn for 15 months or only 13 days,” McQueen’s findings read.
GAP jeans released a video this summer advocating the practice. However, it’s reasoning wasn’t environmental:
Junkscience.com, however, may sum up Levi’s reasoning best: “So remember: clean clothes aren’t green.”
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