Members of Levi’s Service Corps use Project WET activities to engage with factory in Mexico

Panorama of the factory floorPanorama of one section of the factory floor in Mexico Ask someone what an apparel factory in the developing world looks like and you might not expect to hear airy and clean, but that was what Project WET Senior Program Manager Morgan Close found when she recently traveled to Mexico. She was meeting up with members of the Levi Strauss & Co. Service Corps—an immersion program that allows selected LS&Co. employees to experience what life is like for apparel workers—near the site of one of the companies that produces LS&Co. jeans to train employees and local educators to use Project WET.

“I was very surprised with how bright and open the factories were,” Morgan said.

Levi Service Corps members learned about some of the work that goes into making a pair of jeans by trying it themselvesLevi Service Corps members learned about some of the work that goes into making a pair of jeans by trying it themselves It wasn’t the only surprise of the trip, either. While learning about the process that it takes to go from raw denim to finished jeans, she found out that that a typical pair of 501 jeans is touched by about 125 people from start to finish in the production process.

“Seeing the time and process that goes into making a garment was really shocking,” Morgan said.

Morgan’s experiences with the Service Corps in Mexico taught her about the work and lives of the people who make Levi’s products. She also had a chance to teach, training 14 local school teachers, 15 LS&Co. employees and five factory staff to teach students about water using Project WET activities about water conservation and water, sanitation and hygiene.

Service Corps members helped kids understand how germs spread through the Human Knot activityService Corps members helped kids understand how germs spread through the Human Knot activity “The LS&Co employees really enjoyed the activities and are excited to use them after the trip when they return to their home offices and communities,” Morgan explained. “Having local teachers involved in the workshop and student teaching was fantastic. The teachers were dedicated and provided essential information for the Service Corps members on how to work with the students. And the factory staff who participated are excited to teach the activities to all 5,000 of their employees.”

The newly trained Water Ambassadors got the chance to put their training into action right away by teaching local children about clean water and healthy hygiene habits using Project WET’s hands-on activities.

“We worked with about 400 students in grades one through six,” Morgan said. “Watching the LS&Co. and factory employees as well as the local teachers help children in the local community understand the importance of clean water was inspiring.”

About 400 students learned about clean water and healthy hygiene habits with Service Corps membersAbout 400 students learned about clean water and healthy hygiene habits with Service Corps members In turn, Morgan said, factory workers and their families were able to share their life experiences with the Service Corps.

“They seemed to appreciate the opportunity to connect with LS&Co. employees about their work and homes,” she said.

The first Service Corps trip was in 2015, and past trip participants have traveled to Haiti, Cambodia and Sri Lanka. Future trips are already in the planning phase. Speaking to the company’s Unzipped blog, LS&Co.’s Alexis Bechtol, who manages the Service Corps, called it “an incredible program for some of our most engaged employees from around the world.”

“Whether directly or indirectly, everything our employees do day in and day out at LS&Co. has social and environmental sustainability woven into it,” she continued. “The LS&Co. Service Corps program ties all of these pieces together, giving employees a unique opportunity to see our innovative programs in action. They come back to their desks more engaged, thinking about how the decisions they make have a direct impact on the people in our supply chain.”

LS&Co. has been sponsoring the Project WET Foundation since 2015. In 2016, company leaders made a commitment at the White House to use Project WET to train 100 percent of their employees about water and sustainability by the year 2020. To learn more about what LS&Co. and Project WET are doing together, check out these stories:

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