Your Cotton T-shirts Are Not Trash! Anna Falkenmire.

It’s something I hear all the time, so casually. It’s even something I have said. “I just need…like…some more t-shirts to wear”.

And all too often, the simple solution for this is to pop to the store, snap up some cotton t-shirts at a bare minimum cost, and not worry about the fact they probably won’t last because $3 isn’t much to fork out for another one. Right?

Photo by James Rhodes of Olivia Jean wearing Chinchen St Vintage

The desire is so easy to give in to, because a simple cotton t-shirt looking pretty on the rack makes it easy to forget where it came from and how it was made. The WWF reckons it can take up to 2700 litres of water to produce just ONE cotton t-shirt.

Right now, with the droughts, there are rivers and dams literally running dry because of the desperate need for water to sustain our cotton farms. And I’m talking about at home, right here. In Australia.

The actual manufacturing of the t-shirt is also very harmful. With the cotton industry using 25% of the world’s herbicides and pesticides, these pollutants end up in the earth’s waterways and soils, as do the harmful chemicals used to dye them.

Photo by P.Hahn for AbTF

When you add in finishing the t-shirt, transport it, then the regular washing on your part, that’s a giant environmental footprint. Especially when 2 billion new t-shirts are sold every year world wide.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t wear t-shirts!! Or wash them! T-shirts are an absolute staple. T-shirt fashion is so diverse – you’ve got oversized, cropped and fitted, plain or patterned. They tuck, they tie, they button, they drape, they cling.

Just be aware of the impact your clothing can have.

A great idea for a very cool, new (to your wardrobe) t-shirt is to shop vintage. They are already made and worn, adding little new environmental strain, and come in the greatest and most unique of patterns.

Another hot tip is to consider the amount of wears a t-shirt will have. The more you wear a t-shirt, the less you will have to buy, saving the manufacturing process. This means buying good quality, cotton t-shirts in cuts and prints that you LOVE, so you know you’ll wear them.


Photo by Bonnie Lee Tipper of Madeline Sterling 

And even if you don’t, donating a good quality t-shirt to charity means someone else can actually make use of it. Do it for yourself and for our future.

By Anna Falkenmire