Did you know that it takes 713 gallons of water to make just one cotton t-shirt?
Okay, well maybe that statistic is somewhat skewed because no one manufactures just one t-shirt. What it’s really about is the water that it takes to grow the cotton. It’s a lot.
It’s still a scary proposition for our planet and our limited resources. Last night one of our insta followers tagged us in a post about this, and I knew that I had to say something.
Our whole business being what it is, we print thousands of new cotton t-shirts every year. Does that concern me? You know me, of course it does. We try to make as little impact on the planet as possible in our screen printing. Are we going to shut down and stop taking orders of new shirts? Well, no. I don’t think that our going out of business would effectively solve the problem.
I do know that there are things we (and you and everyone) can do to at least slow this crazy train down.
Less consumption, for one. Think about how easy it is to go to any Target or WalMart in your area and buy a cheap graphic tee. Or think about the festivals and markets you go to. Rather than loading up on an armful of t-shirts and tank tops because you just gotta have ’em all, be choosier. Maybe choose one you truly love this trip. Choose one made with premium quality cotton, from a WRAP-certified manufacturer who uses the most sustainable methods. It’s a start.
Reuse your old tees. It doesn’t take Einstein-level thinking to figure out how to put your old worn-out t-shirts to new uses. Cleaning rags, for one. Cut them up and sew new things like bags and skirts and belts. Cut off the collar, twist it up and bam – soft bracelet! Stop throwing things away, people!
Eschew Fast Fashion. Fast Fashion is where garment designers create a limited supply of a new, trendy style for the mass market. If it sells, it may become permanent. If not, they didn’t bet the farm on it and have unsellable inventory. Neat-o, huh? It is for the manufacturer. In three months (or hours) when that style is no longer fashionable, guess what happens? They get thrown out, maybe donated. But what’s the point? Better to buy classic looks that stand the test of time than to bend to every fashion trend. One of my favorite shirts is a striped tee from The Gap that I bought over twenty years ago.
Watch Your Washing. It’s not just the making, but the care of the t-shirts that can make a big impact. Wash in cold water whenever possible, hang dry and leave out the ironing. If it’s wrinkled, hang it in the bathroom while you shower. It not only saves water, but reduces carbon emissions from using less electrical energy.
You knew I wasn’t going to say stop buying t-shirts altogether, right? Listen, they’re comfortable, easy to care for, they look cool, and they can last a long time. Like any other type of garment or product, we need to be more mindful about what we buy.
Hey! Check out this super cool t-shirt designer/printer that only reuses tees: Stay Vocal
Also! You must check out Threads for Love’s Upcycled Collection. We love it!
One last fact: Did you know that it takes 1,799 gallons of water to make a pound of beef? I’ll let you chew on that one while I eat my vegan burger.
Want to learn more about getting apparel printed? Get our Amazing T-shirt Guide!