Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cotton, water and jeans

Yesterday's New York Times had a front-page article about how Levi Strauss & Company is worried that water shortages may make cotton too expensive or scarce to support the blue jeans business.  They're using a variety of efforts to reduce the amount of water required for the care and feeding of a pair of jeans -- now on average, 919 gallons over the garment's lifetime.

Those of us who frequent the local fabric store are very aware of the same issues that have Levi's concerned.  Last year, floods in Pakistan and drought in China wiped out much of the world cotton crop and prices went up dramatically.  It makes you feel good about your stash instead of guilty!

Some of the Levi's efforts make a great deal of sense, such as teaching cotton farmers in Asia to use more efficient irrigation methods.  "Stone-washed" denim is still going to involve stones, but no washing.  You'll start seeing Levi's marketed under a "WaterLess" brand.

But I have to protest their suggestion that people save water by not washing their jeans very often, and maybe never.  Among the helpful hints from the company and concerned consumers: put your jeans in the freezer for a while to kill the odor-causing bacteria, dive into the ocean with your jeans on when the occasion arises, and always wear underwear.

Sorry, folks, I'll go along with the underwear part but I'm going to wash ours whenever I think it's time. Maybe even before.

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