The Day in the Life of a T-Shirt

A few weeks ago, I did a post on printed t-shirts. I fell in love with some of the designs that are out there. The artists who created them amazed me. Then I watched this video from NPR titled “The World Behind a Simple Shirt.” I was amazed with this video. I learned so much. I even made my college English class watch it. Some of my students are future fashion designers, so I figured it would inspire them as well.

The video has five chapters: cotton, machines, people, boxes, and you. Each chapter discusses how the typical t-shirt is made. The process, the people who make it, the shipping, the costs, and then the consumer.

Planet Money

What amazed me the most was the transportation of the cotton from the United States to other countries for manufacturing, and then all the way back as a t-shirt. It costs so much money in oil and gas; it just does not make sense to me. The workers get paid so little, although in this video, it seemed that they needed even the little money that they were making. I see it as slave labor. Hardly any money being made to these t-shirts. I think that more clothing should be made in the United States. Wouldn’t it provide more jobs for the unemployed here at home? I am just sayin’.

Spinning A Shirt

The other thing that boggled my mind was the cost of the actual t-shirt to be made, and then the actual cost of the sale (retail).  While it takes only $12 to make a t-shirt, sometimes they can cost up to $50 per shirt, depending on the brand. CRAZY!

Cost of a Shirt

While having all of this new knowledge, what do I do? Do I stop buying expensive t-shirts? Do I shop at Goodwill? (Actually, I still do – recycle/reuse). Do I get the word out? I will post as much as I can, at least so people have knowledge about this. BUT truly, what can we do? Stop shopping? Only buy USA made clothing? Maybe. That is an option, but then I feel for the people who need the labor, just to buy clean water and food. It is a sad story really.

Here is the video in its entirety:

http://apps.npr.org/tshirt/#/title

- Tracey

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