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Environment activists call out Levi’s as a major polluter

"In a new report, ‘Too Deadly To Wear: Levi’s Pollution, the Booming Fashion Industry and Its Role in Deaths from Air Pollution and Climate Change,’ Stand.earth calls out the fashion industry in general and Levi Strauss, in particular, as having an outsized role in the deadly impact of climate change and air pollution across the globe. Specifically, Stand.earth claims the fashion industry contributes to 38,000 deaths a year from climate change and Levi’s annual contribution to climate pollution equals that of 1.1 million cars."

 

Environment activists call out Levis as a major polluter 2In a new report, ‘Too Deadly To Wear: Levi’s Pollution, the Booming Fashion Industry and Its Role in Deaths from Air Pollution and Climate Change,’ Stand.earth calls out the fashion industry in general and Levi Strauss, in particular, as having an outsized role in the deadly impact of climate change and air pollution across the globe. Specifically, Stand.earth claims the fashion industry contributes to 38,000 deaths a year from climate change and Levi’s annual contribution to climate pollution equals that of 1.1 million cars. Todd Paglia, Executive Director, Stand.earth, says the fashion industry is the source of approximately 8 per cent of global climate pollution. If it were a nation, it would be the fourth largest climate polluter on Earth. Yet major brands like Levi’s continue to drag their feet on comprehensive climate action, ignoring the massive amount of pollution hiding in their supply chain.

Brian Kropp, HR practice leader, Gartner, points out Stand.earth is lashing out at Levi’s but their criticismEnvironment activists call out Levis as a major polluter applies to the whole apparel industry. They are actually framing this campaign as inviting Levi’s to lead the industry in ending its dependence on coal. Anne Bahr Thompson, Founder, Onesixtyfourth, highlighted Levi Strauss is being called out because it does care and focus on environmental issues. Unfortunately, activists don’t take into account practical business realities and expect companies to do everything immediately and at once.

A fact that needs to be noted is that Levi’s joined more than 300 companies, including Gap, Nike, Guess, Eileen Fisher and VF Corporation in the Science Based Initiative to reduce CO2 emissions. Thompson explains, this gives them two years to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, in their own operations and within their supply chains, based upon strict criteria. They are in the process of doing exactly what the protesters are calling them out for.

Is there a damage to the brand?

Dino Villegas, Marketing Associate Professor-practice, Texas Tech University feels, it’s a brand that has been able to maintain relevance for more than 160 years. But now Levi’s is an easy target on pollution and even if this particular attack does not have an immediate effect on brand equity, other attacks in the future can be damaging. Ultimately, it’s the consumers who will decide the fate of brands as Kropp said, corporate social responsibility is more complicated today than it was a decade ago, as companies are being pressured into joining more causes, by more people, through a greater variety of channels, with activist campaigns able to get more attention through social media. If it steps up its environmental efforts further or faster, it won’t be to pacify these activists.

Making the right statement, Thompson said, that changing the model for business cannot happen overnight. Activists should be commending Levi’s efforts and asking how they can help speed things up. We absolutely should call out companies who are irresponsible and negligent. But we need to support and work alongside companies, like Levi’s, that are trying to do the right thing.

 
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