U.S Cotton Trust Protocol

Regenerative Cotton: What Is It and Why Do We Need It?

Levi Strauss & Co.
July 21, 2022

More than 90% of Levi Strauss & Co. products are cotton-based, which makes it critically important that we find more sustainable, more resilient sources for that cotton. We sat down with Liz Lipton-McCombie, director of sustainability for materials and circular economy, to explain how our collaboration with the U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund will help us source more sustainable cotton.

Why do we need more sustainable cotton?

Just as consumers are embracing the farm-to-table movement with food, there is a dirt-to-shirt movement that asks consumers to think about the journey of their clothes. It can feel like a big leap to connect raw materials like cotton and farming practices to the clothes we buy and wear, but the idea of slow fashion is taking hold. It empowers consumers to support a more sustainable world by pausing to think about where their products are coming from. We can collectively reduce our overconsumption of natural resources if we all shift toward slower fashion, buying clothes that are made with good practices and support our farmland.

So, what does it mean to be regenerative and why is that important?

Making clothes — in our case, jeans — uses significant natural resources like water and land to grow the raw materials we need: cotton. We need to invest in farming practices that will ensure the land used to grow cotton remains healthy enough to grow the crop year after year, rather than degrading over time. By focusing on regenerative agricultural practices in cotton farming today we can improve the health of the land we use for decades to come.

How does the U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund help us support better farming practices?

The U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund is an initiative from the Soil Health Institute (SHI) that works to address the health of our soil through regenerative agricultural practices. Today it’s empowering farmers to implement these practices across more than 1 million acres of U.S. land used to grow cotton. Through the fund, farmers have access to five key initiatives to restore the health of their soil: goal setting and measurement; the economics of soil health; farmer education; assessing impact; and creating a resilient future through diversity, equity and inclusion.

U.S. cotton farmers understand the importance of soil health but have limited resources to successfully adopt regenerative practices. The fund is filling this resource gap to support agricultural practices that keep land fertile and make land viable for future use. By collaborating with the fund, we are supporting a program that will enable U.S. cotton farmers to use best agricultural practices that promote the longevity of their land, restore biodiversity and reduce carbon emissions. Basically, we’re able to better manage our own use of natural resources and take climate action at the same time.

How does this partnership support our plans for the future?

Climate is the biggest crisis facing our communities today, and we believe we have a responsibility to act. At LS&Co., this means we have to use more sustainable cotton to create the products you know and love. This partnership supports our efforts to find a new way of working that doesn’t just have a less negative impact on our planet but actually works to restore it for the future.