The final score of the Super Bowl was 31 to 25 in favor of the Green Bay Packers. Just seconds after the game ended, Quarterback Aaron Rogers was sporting their championship shirt. That shirt and thousands of others were there and at the ready for the winning team, but what about the team that lost? Shirts are still printed for them because no one knows the outcome of the game until the very last minute.
So, what happens to those shirts that were printed for the losing team? Well, there are three things that could happen. Sometimes they are destroyed. Sometimes they are shredded and reused as rags. And sometimes they are sent to third world countries, as the companies that produce the shirts are often asked to sign a contract that they won’t sell the shirts of the losing team in the United States.
Destroying brand new, never worn shirts is wasteful in and of itself. Why even produce the shirts in the first place when you know that half of them could be destroyed? Although reusing them as rags or sending them to third world countries are a much better alternative, the effects that the production of the shirts has on the environment are still incredibly detrimental.
So what about all of the new T-Shirts in the world that do sell? In the United States in 2009, 12.7 million tons of textiles were produced. But each year, 68 pounds of textiles are thrown away per person, according to the EPA Office of Solid Waste. Instead of throwing away this most likely acceptable clothing, why not donate it to a thrift store, where it can be resold?
Thrift stores and consignment shops are two of the most popular places that people go to find preowned, inexpensive clothing. And most people that go to these locations have their favorite ones that they visit on a regular basis. When you go to a store regularly, you start to notice that that one T-Shirt is there every time you’ve gone in. But then after seeing it a few times, it’s not there anymore. Most would assume that it found a nice home., but thrift stores and consignment shops have to stay afloat too, and keeping merchandise in the store that hasn’t sold in months isn’t productive to the business.
Many thrift stores change out their inventory after four weeks. Clothing is most often bailed and sent off to be destroyed. The clothing is shredded and sent to an incinerator where the pieces are burned. Incredibly wasteful!
But it’s not just pre-worn shirts that are getting destroyed for not selling. In January 2010, retailers Wal-Mart and H&M were caught throwing out slashed clothing at their locations in New York. According to an article written in the New York Times, the majority of this clothing appeared to be cut with scissors, so that they were no longer functional. The question is, “Why was perfectly good clothing being cut up and thrown out without another thought?”
Now that you have an idea of where all the shirts go, what can be done to change these practices? Well for starters, when it comes to championship games, couldn’t they just wait a day? Is it necessary for the winning team to slip on that shirt right after the clock runs out?
When it comes to thrift store shirts that are being destroyed, there are plenty of other alternatives. Stores could use the shirts as rags, donate them to shelters, or sell them in bulk to customers, like us! We find all sorts of one-of-a-kind shirts in thrift stores. These pieces are purchased, washed, treated, given a second life with a new STAY VOCAL print and then sold in our online store. We also team up with organizations, stores, and bands that want to offer their fans unique merchandise. In 2008, SV creator, Alex Eaves toured across the U.S. with the band The A.K.A.s, who offered an entire line of unique ReUse merchandise.
As for retailers like Wal-Mart and H&M, they were throwing out perfectly good clothing, which could be donated and used as a tax write off (what H&M announced they would do shortly after the New York Times article ran). An even better option though: contact us! STAY VOCAL is always interested in acquiring new apparel and reworking the design; exactly what we’ve done with one of our newest items, the Logo Patch T-Shirt. The patch is simply sewn over the original design.
In the end, the main problem is that there are simply too many shirts being made. For every shirt produced, there is a factory somewhere that has to be operating, using materials and energy and paying employees. For every shirt that the factory produces that is not used, it is a huge waste of all of these resources. This is why we do what we do at STAY VOCAL and why we’re proud to be at the forefront of the ReUse T-Shirt movement.
While many shirts meet an unfortunate early ending, you can find several of the ones that have been rescued, given a new twist and a second life in the STAY VOCAL online store.