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Quick — when’s the last time you washed your favorite pair of jeans? For many hardcore denim aficionados, the answer will be a swift and unequivocal “not even once.” While you don’t have to be as steadfastly devoted as others to keeping your denim raw, Levi Strauss & Company is still urging that both employees and consumers commemorate World Water Day (which arrives on Thursday, March 22) by simply not washing their jeans this week.
The promotion is part of Levi’s own Go WaterLess challenge, a company initiative to reduce the use of water when making their products. Most notably, their Water<Less™ line of jeans, which are made specifically to never see the inside of a washing machine. They even come with a non-removable tag that will “noticeably expand” if hydrated, as reported by Treehugger. At the end of this week, Levi’s will select the three most “stylish” employees, and donate $1000 to the water charity of their choice. For consumers, Levi’s is encouraging that they post pictures to Instragram showing them wearing the same pair of jeans each day.
Levi’s long-term conservation efforts (and partnership with Water.org) have already paid off in the form of 172 million liters of water saved through upgrading their process, and using from 28 percent to as much as 96 percent less water when producing some lines.
“There's that whole denim culture that just refuses to wash their jeans because they break in beautifully, they wear in nicely, the hand gets really interesting, they mould, and they shape and there's all those sort of things that happen to a pair of jeans when you just wear them repeatedly,” said Carl Chiara, Levi’s director of brand concepts to Treehugger. “They sort of polish as opposed to shrink and fade."
For those who find the concept of unwashed clothing as unsanitary, fret not. University of Alberta student-professor Josh Le wore the same pair of Nudie jeans for 15 months straight, during which time they endured everything from food spills to pajama duty (“I wanted to push it to the extreme,” Le told Canada’s National Post). At the end of the 15 months, the jeans were tested for bacteria, and levels were found to be “pretty normal” and didn’t pose any health risks for healthy people.