Diane Stranz on American Life

Stop Single-Purpose T-Shirts!
February 22, 2009, 4:10 pm
Filed under: Clothing, Thrift and Frugality | Tags: , , , , ,

I was on Facebook this morning and saw a sidebar ad titled ‘Need t-shirts for your church group?’ This reminded me of one of my pet peeves: garments created for a short term event which then have no purpose or use afterwards. Since I observe a vow of poverty, I purchase all of my clothing secondhand (from thrift stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army) and there are racks and racks of t-shirts in second hand stores which NO ONE wants to buy or wear . . . and they are usually in mint condition. I am sure some of you think, “It’s not really a shame that I wore this Fun Run t-shirt for only one day and now have no use for it, because I’ll just give it to charity and some lucky homeless man will be grateful to get it.” Au contraire. No one, not even a homeless man, really wants to wear a t-shirt dated May 5, 2005, with corporate logos printed all over the back.

Believe it or not, many of us poor folks have very profound and deeply held values which have actually led to our present state of poverty — and one of those values, for some of us, is to not permit our bodies to be used as walking billboards for profit-oriented business concerns.  There IS a ‘politics of clothing’ (make no mistake) and you reveal much about yourself by the way you permit your wardrobe to be branded by corporate America.  But my point in this blog is not really about that:  it is about the wastefulness of creating any object you do not intend to use for a meaningful and lasting period of time.  This is especially true when you consider that most of the world’s clothing is created by wage slaves working in sweatshop conditions.  If you are going to fuel the market for that type of clothing production, you owe it to the poor man or woman who suffered to produce the t-shirt to at least WEAR the damn thing for as long as humanly possible!


3 Comments so far
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By the way, I really like the way each “Comment” already has my name and mail address! Cool!
As regards this Post, here’s one for your record: (no, make that 2…)… Jack has a bright yellow t-shirt logo’d front AND back with KVIL 103.7fm. On the right shoulder is an inscription: “Hello to the “Allen Outreachers” – Ron Chapman. Now, I’m telling you … I kid him each and every time he wears this “ancient” t-shirt. It’s in the dirty bin as we speak and I recall telling him that no one probably KNOWS of or KVIL probably isn’t on the air now! You know, we’ve been together for over 12 years now, and his t-shirt literally REEKS from old age!
Then, there’s the (even older than you quoted) “just-washed” long-sleeved t-shirt he often wears in cooler weather: “ADDAMYTH-a Neurodynamic Adventure Team-Winter 2002-ALIBATES/ADOBE WALLS-Whats Your Point?” and it’s signed by the arrowhead napper, Ed Day.
Some poor folk keep on wearing – and in our rag bag you’ll find some even OLDER ones that have gone the way of threadbare and HOLY!
Come to think of it, I have some that I love too. Perhaps you’ll inherit them one of these days!!! LOL!

Comment by Mom of Diane

P.S. No one understands us the way we do!

Comment by Mom of Diane

I think it is admirable that Jack is wearing his logo-imprinted t-shirts to the bitter end. NOT wanting to wear them long after the message has lost its vitality is precisely the reason why they shouldn’t be printed in the first place. I have a similar problem with jerseys which are printed for youth sports leagues. Jeffrey and Andrew (ages 7 and 6) have shirts for their Boys and Girls Club soccer team which will be essentially useless in another three weeks . . . unless they wear them all the time like they would any other shirt. But what concerns me is that then they are going to be on a basketball team, and next fall they want to play flag football, and then it is a another soccer season . . . and I cannot imagine that they will wear ALL of those shirts until the shirts fall apart and, thus, reach the end of their life span! And if we give the shirts to charity, we will be contributing to the same problem I mentioned in the original post: a shirt no other kid really wants because he or she wasn’t on the team and therefore has no personal connection to the logo.

Why can’t organizations like the Boys and Girls Club manufacture multi-purpose team shirts and request that they be turned back in at the end of the season, and then reused again for another team? All these youth teams need, really, are shirts that are the same color for each person on the team with a number on the back. I don’t see why each team each season just HAS to have its own unique single purpose shirt.

Comment by dianestranz

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