Like many good stories, your T-shirt would likely have an exciting beginning. Budding in the cotton fields of Alabama, or perhaps the exotic land of India, makes for a promising start. It was plucked either by warm touch of farmhands or maybe the steely cold of a cotton harvester added to its character.
This was followed by the unpleasant experience of getting dunked and washed in vast pools of water, being bleached by harsh chemicals and spun thin by machines intent on testing the last bit of strength in its form.
Even in its seemingly altered shape of a thread, it would retain its indelible impressions from a recent past. You may call it the early coming of age. Perhaps comparable to adolescence in humans, it is now ready to take its defining shape. And, as with humans, it will take the push and pulls of countless acquaintances and strangers to accomplish that. The T-shirt equivalent for this is the textile factory.
The cotton has now graduated into a T-shirt, with seemingly innumerable opportunities to take on the world. Shortly after, it will find a great friend and mentor – you. Things only get better from here. It now shares in your story of college life, new friends, sports, love, marriage, kids and wherever else life takes you.
The fainthearted should stop here because the end is not pretty.
Eventually, worn and forgotten, it lies at the bottom of a wardrobe, forgotten and unwanted. More than eight out of 10 T-shirts get unceremoniously dumped in the trash and are disposed at a nearby landfill. Years of tribulations and loyalty now lie in waste — literally.
Will this be the future of your T-shirt? Or will it live again because you are willing to give it a fresh new life in another wardrobe or repurpose to make new things?
At the heart of making a “better purpose” possible, lays a little known industry that grew tenfold from 1980 to 2005. Today this industry touches the lives of more than 70 percent of the world’s population and has been fueling job creation even in today’s economic environment. The mission of this industry is to make sure that every bit of clothing collected for recycling circulates back in use in one form or another.
Much of the world’s population visits thrift stores and other used-clothing merchants for these pre-worn items. In fact, these clothes may provide the only viable option for millions of households across the world that have to live within very limited means.
Moreover, used clothing is creating employment and local opportunities for entrepreneurs in communities ranging from within the U.S. to South America to Asia. Hundreds of thousands of Africans handle, clean, repair, restyle and distribute used clothing to earn their livelihood.
Let’s choose to say a responsible goodbye to our favorites by recycling them.
For more information, visit the USAgain website.