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Levi Strauss Aims to Build a Better Clothesline

6/10/2010 12:00:00 AM

Tags: Levi Strauss, Care to Air, air drying, line drying, laundry, clothesline

Air drying is the most energy-efficient way to dry our clothes, but it isn’t always the most practical. Not everyone has access to a yard or balcony to string up a clothesline, and 92 percent of households already have a dryer.

Levi Strauss, the world’s oldest blue jeans company, wants to change all that with its Care to Air contest, which offers $10,000 in prizes for new ideas on how to improve or replace the clothesline. Levi Strauss commissioned a life-cycle assessment of its jeans and found that 60 percent of its jeans’ climate impact happens in the hands of consumers, with 80 percent of that total coming from energy-intensive drying. Washing jeans in cold water and line drying them can cut their climate impact by half, but line drying has its fair share of obstacles, from lack of space to outright bans. Levi Strauss’s contest aims to find a stylish, sustainable and effective air-drying solution.

jeans on a clothesline
Clotheslines offer an energy-efficient solution to drying jeans. Photo By Carol Von Canon/Courtesy Flickr. 

Anyone can submit and vote on ideas on the contest’s website until July 31, when Levi Strauss will name five finalists (a judging panel will choose two, and the public will vote on the remaining three). All five finalists will receive $500 for making it to the judging round. First prize will win $4,500, and second prize will win $1,500. Levi Strauss will also award $1,000 for the crowd favorite, the top-ranked entry based on community voting.

The entries will be judged based on four criteria:

• Aesthetics: Some communities have banned outdoor line drying because they think it’s unsightly.

• Scalability: Can the idea be adopted by people in every situation, from urban to rural environments?

• Environmental sustainability: Is the product’s design a closed-loop system?

• Ingenuity: Many clothesline adaptations are already on the market. What’s new?

Levi Strauss will announce the winner on August 16.

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