Michael Kobori - Vice President of Sustainability Levi Strauss & Co.

Michael Kobori - Vice President of Sustainability Levi Strauss & Co.

Michael Kobori has led sustainability at Levi Strauss & Co. since 2001. He developed and leads the company’s sustainability strategy, which includes integrating sustainability into all global functions and regional businesses and open sourcing the company’s sustainability innovations to the rest of the industry.

Under Michael’s tenure, Levi Strauss & Co. has been an industry pioneer on initiatives such as the Better Cotton Initiative, Water<Less™ production techniques; Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals; Worker Well-being; and Care for the Planet™ product labels to encourage consumer awareness of sustainable garment care.

Michael Kobori Joins Sustainable Nation to Discuss:

  • History of sustainability leadership at Levi's

  • Sustainability through a company's entire value chain

  • Key qualities of a strong sustainability leader

  • Competition versus collaboration in the apparel industry

  • Advice and Recommendations for sustainability leaders

Michael's Final Five Question Responses:

What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability leaders that might help them in their careers?

Know the business and understand your business.

What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability?

I'm excited about this emerging idea of regenerative, development, and restorative. Some people call it net positive. The idea that as an entity, a corporation can do more good than harm. That they're positive impacts in the world can outweigh the negative impacts of their footprint. That's really interesting. 

What is one book you would recommend sustainability leaders read?

There is a wonderful book that was written a couple of years ago by one of the real leaders in our field and has been a mentor to me. Jonathon Porritt, who founded Forum for the Future in the UK and founded the Green Party in Britain. Jonathon's written many books. His latest book is called, The World We Made. It is written from the perspective of a school teacher in the year 2050. He is writing this book as a memoir reflecting on all of the things that happen to get the world to this place in 2050, where it is in balance and sustainable. Brilliant work.

What are some of your favorite resources or tools that help you in the work that you do?

I used Twitter a lot. I get a lot of good information and insight from Twitter. It's partly because of following people like Jonathon Porritt and John Elkington and other leaders in the field. I see what they are thinking, what are they talking about, what is top of mind for them. That gives me a lot of insight. I find it to be a useful tool.

Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and the work that you're leading at Levi's and follow you on Twitter?

My handle is @KoboriGrillsCSR. I have the handle because I don't like the term CSR much prefer, I think it's outdated. I much preferred sustainability. I like to grill. I love to cook. That kind of combined them, Kobori Grills CSR, that's the handle.