More than 90 percent of Levi Strauss & Co’s products are cotton-based. The company has committed to sourcing 100 percent more sustainably grown cotton focusing on decreasing water use, cutting carbon emissions, and reducing fertilizer and pesticide use. This corporate commitment to more sustainable and resilient cotton sourcing is part of a broader internal initiative designed to move the company toward a more sustainable and circular product strategy.
“At Levi Strauss & Co., the quality and sustainability of the cotton we use is critical to our business and important to our customers,” Jeffrey Hogue, chief sustainability officer at Levi Strauss, said. “Membership in the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol will be an important step and a key partnership in our efforts to source 100 percent more sustainably grown cotton.”
The Trust Protocol will assist Levi Strauss & Co.’s efforts by providing verified data on sustainability practices from U.S. cotton growers and access to aggregate year-over-year data on critical metrics, including water use, greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, soil carbon, soil loss and land use efficiency. Levi Strauss will also participate in the pilot phase of the Protocol Credit Management System that provides its members with supply chain transparency through use of Textile Genesis’ blockchain technology.
“Levi Strauss & Co. is a globally recognized and respected brand, and we are proud to welcome them as members,” Dr. Gary Adams, president of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, said. “During the past 35 years, the U.S. cotton industry has made significant progress in reducing our environmental impact and the Trust Protocol is aligned with the 2025 national goals to further those improvements. As a member, Levi Strauss & Co. will receive farm level data which will help them progress their sustainability efforts and achieve their cotton sourcing goals.”
Hogue said on Levi’s Unzipped blog that the Trust Protocol offers three crucial opportunities for the company “to drive more sustainable and transparent cotton cultivation.”
“First, it focuses on ongoing efforts to make U.S. cotton production more sustainable,” he said. “Second, it offers measurable, verified data for brands and retailers in six key sustainability metrics, such as carbon emissions and water use. And third, it provides a fully transparent cotton supply chain for all members. This promises to help us track progress toward our water and climate targets and communicate the impact of this work to consumers and key accounts.”
Hogue said the company will start the pilot with a number of mills it work with in the Americas that use U.S. cotton, which makes up about 10 percent of the cotton in Levi Strauss’s supply chain.
“And it definitely fits with our broader approach to cotton, which involves working with partners to drive more sustainable methods of cotton cultivation around the world, along with greater traceability and a clearer sense of its impacts where it’s grown,” he said. “The Trust Protocol is of course U.S. focused, but the ideas behind it dovetail with our priorities globally. Most importantly, it will allow us to further diversify our more sustainable cotton portfolio, which is both necessary and prudent given how much cotton we use.”
The Trust Protocol has added more than 450 brand, retailer, mill and manufacturer members since its launch in 2020. This includes Gap Inc. and its Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Athleta brands, as well as global apparel manufacturer Gildan and U.K. retailers Tesco, Byford and Next Plc. Other Trust Protocol member announcements include the first 10 U.S. mills to join and the first members in Latin America.
The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, recognized by Textile Exchange and Forum for the Future, and part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Cotton 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge, Cotton 2040 and Cotton Up initiatives.
The Trust Protocol underpins and verifies U.S. cotton’s progress through sophisticated data collection and independent third-party verification. Brands and retailers gain access to U.S. cotton with sustainability credentials proven via Field to Market, measured via the Fieldprint Calculator and verified with Control Union Certifications.
The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol is overseen by a multi-stakeholder board of directors comprised of representatives from brands and retailers, civil society and independent sustainability experts, as well as the cotton-growing industry, including growers, ginners, merchants, wholesalers and cooperatives, mills and cottonseed handlers.