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Levi's CEO, Chip Bergh: Unwashed Jeans Are More Sustainable

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Denim jeans were intended to last. Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis invented “blue jeans” in 1873. Once seen as attire for working men, jeans have evolved tremendously and can be tailored to fit any wardrobe or occasion. While the style of blue jeans shows no sign of going away, Chip Bergh, the CEO of Levi’s, has a very sustainable approach to longer lasting jeans: don’t wash them.

Bergh participated in Fortune’s Brainstorm Green conference, where he spoke about eschewing washing machines in favor of extending the life of your beloved blue jeans, but also as a way to help the environment. Bergh says skipping the laundromat saves a lot of water and, with durable jeans that last so long, consumers will save money by choosing Levi’s jeans. In fact, Bergh himself hasn’t washed his favorite pair of jeans in the entire year that he’s had them.

“I know that sounds totally disgusting,” Bergh says to a chuckling audience. “But believe me, it can be done! You can spot clean it, you can air dry it… I have yet to get a skin disease or anything else.” Bergh isn’t alone in the “no wash” movement. Anderson Cooper and Tommy Hilfiger also skip the washer and dryer for their blue jeans.

“We are the ultimate in sustainable apparel,” Bergh said. “If you buy [our jeans] they will last a lot longer than most people’s waistlines will.” With that said, Bergh also mentioned that Levi’s rank #1 in second-hand clothing stores, as well. 

Hear more about Levi’s sustainability practices and goals in Bergh’s interview below.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

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