Levi’s and San Francisco Partner Up in Groundbreaking Textile Recycling Program

levis textile recycling

San Franciscans can now recycle their textiles and old apparel at local Levi Strauss’ stores.

On January 13, 2014 the San Francisco Department of the Environment announced a new strategy toward making the California city the “greenest” in North America – a zero waste textile initiative. The Progress with Less campaign is a collaboration between the city, I:CO, San Francisco native Levi Strauss & Co. and several other brands whereby city residents can recycle their unwanted textiles and goods knowing that they will be put to good use.

levi's recycle box

Since last week, shoppers have been able to drop off their unwanted clothes at designated boxes in three Levi’s stores in San Francisco, from where they are collected and put to new use by I:CO, a global textile recycling system. Any brand of clothing can be deposited in the boxes, which will hopefully spread to other stores in the city if this pilot campaign is successful (which we hope it will be!)

San Francisco is the nation’s leading city when it comes to waste reduction, with an 80 percent landfill waste diversion rate. However, textiles are still one of the top 3 items still sent to landfill, and the city’s annual textile waste comes to about 20,000 tons – that’s a whopping 4,587 EVERY HOUR. Shocking, but true, and doesn’t even compare to the 39 million pounds that are sent to landfill globally every year.

So, taking steps toward changing our product use and discard habits can have an immense effect on the environment, and provides an entirely new and creative market for re-using our old goods. Levi’s has been at the forefront of recycling textiles in innovative ways, for example having insulated their San Francisco headquarters with 25,500 pairs of discarded jeans. Through the Progress with Less campaign, the California city, Levi’s and all the other brands involved hope to inspire other metropolis’ and clothing labels around the world to create schemes that make recycling easy for consumers, and turn waste into a new and exciting resource.

Images: Levi Strauss & Co.

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