T-shirts serve multiple purposes. They are casual wear for a hot day, and a good under layer for formal outerwear. They prevent bumbling tourists from getting lost by matching each other, and of course, they can serve as walking billboards.
There are several things that are escalating the consumption of t-shirts on a college campus.
Representation: Student organizations buy t-shirts at least once a year for their organization. The bookstore also sells all kinds of styles of campus apparel. Wearing what the consumer is a part of is advertising for the college or organization.
Getting things for free: Oh yes, FREE! T-shirts are seen as a practical item to give away for free because of the advertising aspect of a shirt. Also, giving away a t-shirt may feel more “valuable” than giving out a pen or pair of sunglasses.
Accessibility: Buying custom shirts in bulk is probably the best thing since online-shopping for most student orgs. One of the many websites that helps you design, prints, and ships boxes of customized apparel is CustomInk. It’s so simple to order anything online these days, especially T-Shirts, because when you are done with your shirt, you can wear it again, put it in storage, donate it, or just throw it out.
The problem with going through clothing like it’s nothing is that that “nothing” will build up and get stuck in landfills all over the world. One of the many brands of t-shirts that manufacturers use to sell their t-shirts is Gildan. Many of the Gildan shirts I own are made in Haiti.
First, the shirts are assembled in factories in Haiti. Next, they are shipped to the supply company’s warehouse; Gildan for example. Then vendors that print T-shirts, like CustomInk, buy the shirts and sell them to customers. Then the customers wear the shirts for however long they desire. If that shirt is donated to charity, it becomes one of the 90 percent of shirts that the charity cannot use or resell, so it gets shipped to a third-world country that supposedly could use the shirt, like Haiti. Then Haiti gets the shirts that they might not be able to sell and puts them into a landfill.
In an effort to inform the world of where our clothes come from, Fashion Revolution campaigns for human and environmental rights in the industry. In a few weeks, April 24t-30, they will hold their annual international campaign that advocates awareness of who made our clothes. You can join in with #whomademyclothes.
By Leah Myers