NOW THAT’S FUNNY
Levis Strauss wants us to save water by not washing our blue jeans. They say jeans don’t need to be washed all that often. Clearly they have not met my children.
The jeans manufacturer says that from the humble beginnings in a cotton field to the day when you finally toss those jeans in the trash, each pair will consume 919 gallons of water. The company is concerned about that level of water usage because of environmental issues, and because if water shortages do become severe it could make growing cotton prohibitively expensive. OK, well, how much water does a cotton bath towel use during its life? A sweatshirt? A set of sheets? Should we just stop doing laundry altogether?
Levi Strauss has helped underwrite and promote programs that teach farmers in other parts of the world the latest irrigation and rainwater capture techniques. And it has introduced a stone-washed denim that is smoothed with rocks but no water. I like to think of them as “stoned” jeans. Actually, Levis calls them waterless jeans and you can read all about them here.
Then, to save even more water, they’re asking us to do our part. Don’t wash the jeans, they say. Put them in freezer instead -- that will kill any germs.
Ew! First of all, my whole family wears jeans all the time. I would be putting six to 10 pairs of jeans in the freezer on a regular basis. I don’t have room for that. There’s food in there. Second, I’m going to put my boys’ germy jeans in the freezer next to the food I eat? My husband spends his days in New York City and rides the subway, and my boys spend their days in school where strep, lice and plain old boogers are regular occurrences. I’m not putting that next to the pork tenderloin.
I suppose I could put the jeans in plastic bags first. Then I’m using 6-10 plastic bags a week … what is the water consumption of a Ziploc bag and how long does that bag stay in the environment after I throw it away?
Third, the freezer method addresses germs, but not dirt. Grass stains, mud, dog snot, food smears … do we all walk around with our jeans looking like a Jackson Pollock painting?
I appreciate the efforts of Levi Strauss to save water, and believe me, having less laundry to do would improve my life. I am always asking my kids: is that REALLY dirty or could you wear it one more day? If we put on a pair of pants for church and then change out of them when we get home, do those pants need to be washed? Probably not.
I don’t know why my boys often look like they’ve been in a food fight when they come home from school, but they do, and in that case, I want to take their jeans and wash them. I care that their clothes are washed, even if they don’t. As a matter of fact, my teenager thinks that leaving his jeans on his bedroom floor overnight IS washing them.
Maybe he’ll end up working for Levi Strauss.
Pam Lobley writes the “Now That’s Funny” column. Follow her on twitter @plobley.