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Saving the planet with 'green' wear

It's World Water Day today. What will you be doing to preserve and conserve this precious resource? Several fashion brands will be celebrating the 19th annual event pioneered by the United Nations with challenges designed to bring awareness to crucial water issues.

Employees at Levi Strauss & Co in San Francisco, California, USA, are wearing the same pair of jeans five days straight without washing them as part of the company's week-long World Water Day Challenge. To aid its employees in sticking with the programme, the company has set up cleaning stations around its office for spot-treating denim.

Levi's is encouraging individuals outside the company to also go waterless by washing their jeans in cold water and only cleaning them every two weeks instead of weekly. Levi's, which began selling low-water Water

It takes an average of 2,866 gallons of water to make a single pair of jeans, factoring in the growing of the cotton, as well as its bleaching, dyeing and finishing, according to the Water Footprint Network, a Dutch non-profit. Once those jeans make their way onto someone's body, they use up thousands of gallons more in repeated washings.

Recognising the water intensity of its products, Levi Strauss announced the new line of Water

According to Erik Joule, senior vice-president of merchandising and design for the Levi's brand, "We challenged ourselves to operate at the intersection of style and sustainability... We're excited about the results we've achieved so far, and we know we can make an even bigger impact by applying this innovative thinking to other aspects of our production process."

The finishing process for jeans typically involves three to ten washing cycles. Levi's Water

In 2010, Levi's began including care tags on its products, providing customers with information on how to reduce the environmental impact of their clothes. Its Care Tag for Our Planet programme suggests washing clothes less, washing them in cold water, line drying and donating old clothes to Goodwill.

Whether it's forgoing laundry, a shower or tooth brushing, the outdoor action brand Teva is challenging individuals to give up water in one area of their lives for World Water Day.

"Teva has a long-standing passion for clean water, the source of both life and our recreation," says Will Pennartz, Teva lifestyle marketing manager. "It is our responsibility to help in the protection of these playgrounds for future generations."

In 2011, Teva launched its Pair for a Foot programme, which aims to protect one linear foot of river, lake and ocean shoreline for every pair of shoes sold. Teva works in partnership with the Surfrider Foundation, Ocean Conservancy and other environmental groups to assist with water cleanup efforts.

United by Blue is even more hands-on. The entire staff of the Philadelphia-based T-shirt and bag company will be spending the day on the banks of the Delaware River for World Water Day, collecting trash. Over the course of two hours, they are likely to retrieve about 300 pounds of garbage—from disposable diapers to soda cans and plastic bottles, the latter of which will be shipped to a California recycling facility that will turn these so-called ocean plastics into containers for Method brand cleaning products.

In almost two years, United by Blue has collected 83,000 pounds of trash from rivers, oceans and lakes as part of its business model: for every item sold, the company guarantees it will pull one pound of trash from polluted waterways.

"Waterways and oceans are 71 per cent of the planet," said Brian Linton, founder of United by Blue, which is sold online, at Urban Outfitters and, beginning next month, at select Nordstrom's. "We live on a blue planet, so everything is united by blue. You and I and the frog and the fish and the bird and the bacteria, we all need water to survive."

Like Levi's and Teva, United by Blue is also issuing a challenge: to give up single-use plastic bags and bottles.

"One of the most common plastics we find is the plastic water bottle," said Linton. "Asking people to think more about single-use plastics is a great way for people to tackle the water pollution issue without too much effort on their part."

Fourteen billion pounds of trash ends up in the world's oceans each year, Linton said. According to the United Nations, one in eight people on the planet lacks access to clean drinking water. —latimes.com

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