By Rosalind Chu, Corporate Communications Specialist at Levi Strauss & Co. and Berkeley-Haas B.S.B.A. ‘11

I didn’t wash my jeans too often in college because I wanted to save money on laundry. But now that I’m working at Levi Strauss & Co., I wash them even less and have a new movitation…because I have come to firmly believe that “Dirty is the New Clean.”

When Levi Strauss & Co. conducted a lifecycle assessment of our two iconic products – a pair of Levi’s® 501® jeans and Dockers® Original Khakis – we discovered that consumers can reduce the climate change impact of their jeans by up to 50 percent by line drying and washing them in cold water! That’s why we started a long-term conversation with our consumers by launching Care for Our Planet, a program that educates consumers about what they can do to save water and energy after they buy a pair of Levi’s® jeans or Dockers® khakis.

But we also realized that in order to have maximum impact in our mission to address global water issues, our employees need to believe in the power of their own contributions and live this mission too.

That’s why last month, in honor of World Water Day on March 22, we challenged employees to change their laundry habits by wearing the same pair of pants for five days in a row (March 19-23)… without washing them. For a measure of accountability (and fun), employees were provided non-removable Go Water<Less™ tags made of compressed sponges to affix onto their jeans.  The trick?  The tags inflate when they are exposed to water!

As the Community Affairs lead for Asia Pacific, I helped 15 office locations in Asia activate this challenge. In the planning phases, things sounded great on paper; the challenge is easy enough, and should be perceived as a fun group activity. But then questions started to come to mind: what if my colleagues do not think the same? Would it be too much to ask employees to photograph their daily experiences, given that the challenge is  voluntary?

Turns out, employees really enjoyed themselves with this challenge. Not every office chose to participate (although over 45 did globally!) – but I still loved seeing my colleagues from around the world exercise their fashion sense and creativity through Flickr and Instagram (searchable by the #GoWaterless hashtag). And if you look, you’ll notice that as the days went by, the photos got crazier.

Some of us may have had too much fun. Take myself, for example. I spent up to 30 minutes one night cutting my dENiZEN™ jeans so that I could transform them into cut-off shorts.

By the end of the challenge, I think we accomplished our goal: to encourage employees to Go Water<Less™ in their lives…and have some fun, too! I know I did!

Check out some photos below:

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