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Levi Strauss says, 'Don’t wash your jeans!'

bluejeansBY PAM LOBLEY
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
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.

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Comments (7)
7 Saturday, 30 March 2013 11:23
Jason Jehosephat
If this were effective, why would it be specific to jeans? Why wouldn't we just replace our washers and dryers with specially designed clothing freezers?

It turns out to be false that all the germs are killed by freezing the jeans. But even it were true, as the writer notes, germs aren't the only issue. Do you want to walk around year after year in your own filth? Your sweat, your skin flakes, matter filtered out of your farts?
6 Wednesday, 15 February 2012 04:04
Boxless
"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."
Nah, you can wear jeans even for a year straight without washing and they won't become any more smelly or germ ridden.

"I suppose I could put the jeans in plastic bags first. Then I’m using 6-10 plastic bags a week … " I know.. It's such a shame plastic bags dissolve after having been in a freezer ;)

"Third, the freezer method addresses germs, but not dirt. Grass stains, mud, dog snot, food smears …"
This is true, but what is wrong with having some ornaments on jeans? Grass, blood, wine stains all start to fade over time. You could see your jeans as sort of a diary. Mud and dog snot come off easy with a violent shake outside coming from the freezer, too.

"As a matter of fact, my teenager thinks that leaving his jeans on his bedroom floor overnight IS washing them."
Me too, and nobody has said a mean word of my jeans :) It's only when I tell them they have never had exposure to detergents that their face twitches. It's too bad, being closed minded about stuff such as this is far too easy today.
5 Wednesday, 30 November 2011 02:40
dmp
"I would be using 6-10 plastic bags every week"
Did you know that plastic bags are, in fact, reusable? The gallon sized ones hold up particularly well.
I don't think my roommates would appreciate this, but if I were living alone I would try it, it seems like an interesting thought.
4 Thursday, 24 November 2011 11:40
Crawford Boys - Toronto
I own a retail store in Toronto specializing in dress/upscale casual clothing for boys, so this article really caught my eye on one of the tweets I received.

Is Levi serious or was this a 'tongue in cheek' suggestion? If it is for real, then I guess they are appealing to those who appreciate the 'lived-in' look.
Great article.
Paul,
Crawford Boys, Toronto
3 Sunday, 20 November 2011 17:53
RubyRose
It's not like they are saying "Hey if you're filthy don't wash them" but lots of people can get through the day without getting incredibly messy.
Or getting their pants covered in dirt or food. I just got through 4 full days without a spill.
And if you go with the freezer, who says you have to use a freezer bag and chuck it out after each use. I'm with onehookedfish, what the hell is this even?
2 Sunday, 20 November 2011 02:39
onehookedfish
That is, if you can even call it an article. What a random topic, it seems like you're hating on Levi Strauss for recommending people to wash their jeans less? Jesus Christ, is there nothing going on in the rest of the world for you to write about? I cannot believe I just read that. Do you consider yourself a journalist?
1 Sunday, 20 November 2011 00:41
MT23
Buy a jean freezer.

But seriously, I only wash my jeans once every couple months. The only exception is if I'm actually wearing them outside in very hot temperatures. They look so much better this way too.

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