When it comes to reducing your impact on the environment, the clothes you purchase don’t always come to mind. Sure, you can re-use torn clothing, or opt for second-hand. But if you want to order custom made t-shirts, is there a way to make sure they are eco-friendly?
One of the simplest ways to create an eco-friendly shirt is to use organic cotton. The cotton is grown using a healthy process with no pesticides and as little impact on the environment as possible.
Cotton is usually grown with pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers. These chemicals increase the rate of production and the total yield of the crops, which greatly reduces the overall cost of creating a shirt. Unfortunately, those chemicals that created such a great harvest tend to wash into nearby streams, seep into the soil, and damage the surround plant and animal life. The effects aren’t always immediate, but a steady supply of pollutants into local streams and rivers can render them completely undrinkable.
Organic cotton is grown naturally, with regular fertilizer and no pesticides. This isn’t just good for the earth; it’s also good for you. Many pesticides are also known human carcinogens; whether you’re a bug or a human, those chemicals are dangerous. Leaving them out of the process makes workers safer, and ensures that no trace chemicals makes contact with your skin. If you have sensitive skin or are just looking for an earth-friendly clothing option, organic cotton is a great way to go.
Of course, you can’t choose organic if you’re getting a synthetic material. Polyester is a synthetic textile found in countless articles of clothing. It’s easy to produce, but it’s also made of plastic. This causes both air and water pollution during the creation process. In addition, it isn’t nearly as biodegradable as cotton and other natural fibers. If you put polyester in a landfill, it’s going to stay there for a long time.
Instead, many companies are turning to post-consumer polyester – that is, recycled plastic. Believe it or not, most of this doesn’t even come from shirts; it comes from plastic bottles. Many plastic bottles and containers are made out of the same material used in shirts. That plastic is melted down and spun into incredibly thin fibers, which are then woven into fabric. So the next time you toss your soda bottle into a recycling bin, it might come back around as a shirt.
It takes less energy to make polyester fabric out of recycled bottles than it does to make it from scratch. Because of this, many companies are turning to blends of recycled and regular polyester, with a little organic cotton thrown into the mix. Our Anvil ECO shirt uses both recycled polyester and organic cotton, mixing natural fibers with efficiently used plastics. We also sell an additional organic cotton blend and completely organic cotton shirt by the same company. By paying a little extra attention to the fabric you use for your next promotional event or fundraiser, you can help the earth and wear an awesome shirt at the same time.