Ethically made t-shirt labels
At the end of last year, I launched a t-shirt label with the lovely Teemill called The Empathy Project, to raise funds for an elephant charity called the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), which takes care of elephants orphaned by poaching and human wildlife conflict. I launched it because I had been devastated by news that Botswana was thinking of legalising elephant hunting. Well, it’s done now. At a time when elephants are dying at the rate of 100 a day from poaching, elephant hunting is now going ahead in Botswana. What’s more, Botswana is asking the upcoming meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to allow it to export elephant tusks to the world, in spite of an international ban on the trade. I’m heartbroken. If you’d like to support DSWT, please buy one of my t-shirts; they get 20 per cent of the sales price. If you’d like to find ways to help - there aren’t many - then get in touch with me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll put you in touch. In grief.
Enough talk; circular fashion is here now as Teemill (see above) launches T-shirts made from worn out organic t-shirts destined to be remade again and again. The aim is that open source and circularity will lead to rapid change in the fashion industry - because if there’s anything that Teemill is good at, it’s aiming high. They’ve got a battle: over 100 billion items of clothing are made per year, and yet a truck full of textiles is burned or buried in landfill every second. Current projections indicate that the linear clothing industry, which takes resources and creates waste at a furious pace, will more than triple by 2050.
“Slowing down fast fashion won't fix it, but when we took material people normally throw away and made new products from it, it changed everything,” explained Mart Drake-Knight, design engineer at Teemill. “What’s needed is the technology to make the reverse logistics of fashion possible and economical. That’s exactly what we’ve done.”
Here’s the science bit: “customers scan the label inside with their phone to activate a free post returns coupon when the product is worn out. Teemill recover and remanufacture the materials into new t-shirts and give the customer £5 off a new item. Technology efficiencies enable these plastic free, organic and recycled t-shirts to be retailed new at £20.” Hey presto, no unsold stock, no waste. Plus, products made by Teemill are printed in a renewable energy-powered factory in real time - seconds after they are ordered. You’re welcome.
Five British artists – Laura Callaghan, Clio Peppiatt, creative pattern organisation Patternity, Poppy Chancellor and Ruby Taylor – have designed a series of t-shirts to support ActionAid UK’s annual #MyBodyIsMine campaign, offering twists and comments on the campaign’s central concept: helping women and girls reclaim their rights to their bodies.
“I wanted to show a woman enjoying being in her own skin, in a moment of solitude, far away from harm,” says Callaghan of her t-shirt (pictured), which turns the campaign’s signature red dot into a balloon. “That’s what #MyBodyIsMine means to me – being confident, safe, and in control of our own bodies.”
Launched on World Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28th), the t-shirts will be sold by the company Everpress for 4 weeks in the run-up to the summer festival season. One in three women worldwide experience violence in their lifetime, such as domestic violence, rape, acid attacks, child marriage and female genital mutilation. Shine a spotlight on violence against women and girls and raise money for ActionAid’s work by getting a t-shirt.
Veganism is tricky to talk about to non-vegans but t-shirt label Vegan Outfitters (mission: “to spread compassion, one tee at a time”) manages to pull it off with a gentle humour. Every time you buy something from the store, VO donates to amazing UK sanctuaries dedicated to rescuing farm animals from abuse and slaughter. Plus, tees comes from a W.R.A.P Gold certified facility, meaning ethical manufacturing, solar-power sewing, less water used, no sweatshop labour and plastic-free packaging. Great totes, mugs and phone cases, too. We love.
Currently crowdfunding, LoveDesh is a t-shirt with its heart on its sleeve. Its sole design, #Remember1136, commemorates the 1,136 lives lost in the fall of Rana Plaza in 2013; its manufacture does the same. Determined to stop workers being exploited and abused for fast fashion, mother and daughter design team Yasmin and Amber have sought to create the ‘kindest t-shirt in the world’, using 100% organic cotton and making sure the Bangladeshi female garment workers pay themselves minimum wage and share of profits. If efforts to raise funds are successful, Yasmin and Amber aim to help all garment workers, artisans, weavers, rural villagers in their nascent ethical fashion brand by hiring and paying them better. If this sounds good, support them here.