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Levi’s CEO: ‘Don’t Wash Your Jeans’

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“These jeans are maybe a year old and these have yet to see a washing machine.” — That quote comes from Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh, speaking at an environmental conference this week. Bergh wore the jeans onstage in front of a large audience, hoping to convey an eco message in the flesh.

Truth is, most people do way too much laundry. We covered an innovative shirt and fabric treatment earlier this week that lets athletes minimize the need to wash sweaty clothing.

It’s a trend the dirtbags here at GearJunkie love — saving water via the simple means of washing less. We’ve been practicing it for years, both on trips as well as at home. We also tend to wear wool and other fabrics that do not require as much washing.

Many people have a habit of wearing jeans or other clothes a single day and then throwing them in the laundry bin. But Bergh’s message was that you should very seldom machine wash.

Bacteria doesn’t build up that quickly, and unless they are covered in mud simple spot cleaning to remove dirt or grime is better than subjecting them to a spin cycle and gallons and gallons of water used.

Beyond the message in the presentation, Levi’s has a major initiative devoted to cutting back on water use. See the company’s WaterLess project page.

CNN covered Bergh’s “anti-wash” presentation this week along with other major news outlets. The CNN story further reported that its anchor Anderson Cooper “washes his jeans very rarely.”

The story quotes a columnist, Jolie Kerr, about the concept of washing less. “Consider how you’re wearing your jeans and make laundering decisions accordingly,” she said. We agree.

—Stephen Regenold

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