The Life Cycle of a T-Shirt

A Story of Sorrow – An Open Letter From a T-Shirt to North America

GMO Seeds – The Start of a Toxic Adventure

My beginning comes from the earth. I began my journey in the spring. I began to grow. I was thirsty, so thirsty, I soaked as much water as I could find. I drank and grew and drank and grew. I was well protected from my enemies, I am A GMO seed. My creators made sure I would be protected from the mouths that would gladly devour me and the other plants who would love to take my place. Through the summer I developed more, growing bigger every day. I flower and bear fruit but I will not be eaten. My journey does not take me far from the stomach, but our purpose is completely different. The fall is when I am ready. Plucked from the ground by the tiny fingers of an eight-year-old girl, my journey is set to begin. There are so many places I could go, I am excited to see where I will end up.  

Child Labor, child labour, Clothing life cycle, CO2 emissions, Consumerism, fast fashion, garment factory, garment industry, garment production, garment workers, gmo, recycling, slave labour, sustainable clothing, sweatshop, t-shirt, textile waste

Photo Credit: Ferghana News

Journey to the Sweatshops and Slave Labour

I am waiting for the truck bailed up and ready to go. The bumpy ride takes a while. When I stop, the doors open, I am brought into the light. As soon as I can see, I am aware that I am far from home, I can see the ocean. I am put on a ship. The voyage is long, I am tossed about, jostled, and shaken. When I see sunlight again, I am in a very different place. There is a lot of new noises, smells, and sights, it is not like the field I grew up in. I am quickly whisked away to a big building. Me and my companions are laid out on the floor. I am pulled by an interesting looking machine. I am changing, becoming a long, thin strand. Some of my companions are left behind at this point, they didn’t make the cut, they were too small. I have changed so much, but they keep pulling and making me thinner. Around and around I go being put on to a bobbin. My body gets twisted and spun, twisted and spun, this is a new beginning for me, I am now thread. I am weaved back and forth back and forth and mixed with some of my companions. I have a hint of yellow colour, but it isn’t preferred. I am bleached and dyed, so I can be made perfectly. I am mixed with different chemicals so I can be just the right colour. These chemicals can burn or hurt the person who will own me. The waste from them flows through the waterways where I am processed. I have become fabric. A new part of my journey has begun. 

Again, I am packed up, loaded on to another ship. The waves hit the ship and I am rocked back and forth until the dizziness is overwhelming. I am unpacked into an unfamiliar place. There are lots of people here, mostly women and girls. They look so tired, sad and burnt-out. There are many of these people all over, making many more like me. They take me out and cut me into patterns. I am then stitched back together and made into a new item. Though the labor for me only cost about 12 cents in total, I will be sold for for a much higher price in the Western world. I am loaded with chemicals so I can survive my journey in the perfect condition. Many companions did not make the cut, they will stay here. 

Child Labor, child labour, Clothing life cycle, CO2 emissions, Consumerism, fast fashion, garment factory, garment industry, garment production, garment workers, gmo, recycling, slave labour, sustainable clothing, sweatshop, t-shirt, textile waste

Photo Credit: http://www.waronwant.org

Western Consumerism

Here I am again, packed up, loaded and put onto another ship. Another long trip to my destination. Finally I arrive. This place is different from all the others I have been before. Here my box is opened up. The workers cough a bit when the box is opened, the chemicals, especially the formaldehyde on me are too much for them to handle. It is finally my time to shine. I am stabbed with a gun that attaches a plastic tag and brought to the front of the store. People walk by and stare at me. Some try me on, but I am put back, a little smellier. Finally the day comes, I am chosen! I am put into a thick plastic, shiny bag, and we make our way out of the store. 

My destination is a closet. It smells like mothballs. I am one of my owners favourite pieces. We have a lot of exciting times, we go to the park and to school. I am most certainly washed too often, my owner won’t go long without me. That all changed. One night we were out for a birthday dinner. Everyone was laughing and having a good time. Then it happened; the spaghetti sauce spill. The red warm sauce spilled all over me. They tried and tried to wash me with numerous harsh chemicals, including bleach, but nothing would get the stain out. From then on I hung in the closet, hoping for a miracle to make the stain disappear. After months, they decided it was time for me to go. I was taking up too much space and I wasn’t desirable anymore. They decided the best place for me to go was the garbage. Out I went that Tuesday evening, by Wednesday I was making my way to the landfill, didn’t even make it as a rag!

It was disappointing being tossed away, especially because of all the work and travel I had to go through to get here. Now I sit, taking up space, I have no purpose. I guess the bright side is I am not alone here. At the landfill, I have lots of friends like me. Thirty percent of all pieces like me end up here. We take up a lot of space and create a lot of pollution. Our carbon footprint is astonishing. It is really disenchanting to see so many of us here. We could have done more, we could have been used for another purpose. But there are so many like me, people don’t care. They would rather dispose of us than recycle. We can be so much more. Our labour is worth so much more. We are more than a use-once throw away item. If people only knew. 

Child Labor, child labour, Clothing life cycle, CO2 emissions, Consumerism, fast fashion, garment factory, garment industry, garment production, garment workers, gmo, recycling, slave labour, sustainable clothing, sweatshop, t-shirt, textile waste

Textile waste

Fast Fashion Facts;

  • 350 000 tons of clothing go to landfills each year in the UK.
  • 13.1 million tons of clothing goes to landfills each year in the USA.
  • Only 15% (2 million tons) of clothing in the USA is donated or recycled after use. 
  • One pound of textile makes seven pounds of CO2 emissions.
  • 700 gallons of water is needed to create a T-shirt.
  • 30 % of clothes in ones wardrobe is not worn. 
  • Reducing clothing waste saves water, emissions, toxic chemicals from being introduced to our bodies and environment, and saves landfill space. 

Child Labor, child labour, Clothing life cycle, CO2 emissions, Consumerism, fast fashion, garment factory, garment industry, garment production, garment workers, gmo, recycling, slave labour, sustainable clothing, sweatshop, t-shirt, textile waste

Photo credit: http://www.canadianbusiness.com

 

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