How Green Is Your T-shirt?

My green t-shirt embroidery

When Joanna from Fairtrade Yorkshire asked me to participate in this campaign it was easy to say yes. This campaign is part  of the Great Big Green Week 18-26 September 2021. (The Great Big Green Week is an initiative from the Climate Coalition – an umbrella group of organisations which campaign on climate, the environment and human rights.) It’s aim is to raise awareness of the how the fashion industry accounts for 8% of all climate emissions, more than the entire economies of the UK, France and Germany combined. Fast fashion is really very bad for the environment and a huge catalyst of climate change. 

Climate change and fair trade are inextricably linked. The effects of climate change are being felt now in the low income countries where fair trade organisations, farmers, workers and artisans operate.

We are seeing the impacts of extreme weather events caused by climate change. The time is now. Climate change is the fight of our lifetime.

This year, we in the UK have a huge opportunity to raise the ambition of plans to tackle climate change at home and abroad. The UK is hosting a major UN climate summit, known as COP26, in Glasgow this November. This means parliament and local authorities alike want to be seen as ambitious in tackling climate change.

My green t-shirt embroidery

My green t-shirt

My green t-shirt that Joanna sent me has a little bit of background. It is part of 44 green T shirts – Fairtrade cotton, sustainable and ethical but only worn once. They were used once for a event back in October 2019, when Fairtrade Yorkshire took part in the Fairtrade Foundation’s Make Your Mark challenge, creating the Fairtrade mark in the form of a human mosaic featuring almost 200 volunteers in Hull’s Trinity Square. The sky blue T shirts and hats were part of the uniform of the Absolutely Cultured volunteers. The black T shirts were official Fairtrade mark t-shirts and have been used to great campaigning effect in the months since.

Fairtrade t-shirts sign

But, after the event they had 44 green t-shirts left, worn only once. So what to do with them?

They have been sent out to textile artists, crafters, fashion students and artisans to upcycle and create a piece of wearable art with a message about climate change, fair trade and you. I’m honoured to be chosen as a green and ethical blogger to join and trying to send my message – our message out.

By now all of us upcycled, designed, styled and customised our plain green t-shirts to show, how it can be made your own like everything else, like every other garment with a little bit of love, personalisation and craftiness. 

So all the tees will be gathered together and styled with fair trade clothing and accessories, second hand and “model’s own” clothing and put on a fashion show with a twist during the Great Big Green Week in September.

I went for embroidery after the recent success of upcycling my denim jacket the same way. I thought the same Under The Sea theme would go well with the colour of the t-shirt so I used the same kit from Paraffle. 

My green t-shirt embroidery

My green t-shirt embroidery

So how green is your t-shirt?

Now it’s over to you, dear reader. How green is your t-shirt? What can you do? How can you make your wardrobe more sustainable and environmentally friendly?

Making the fashion industry more sustainable is vital in the fight of climate crisis and it goes hand in hand with making it more ethical and fairtrade. 

  • Consider second hand before buying new. Custom t-shirt printing design for old t-shirts.
  • When buying new, buy natural fibres and no plastic materials
  • Invest in better quality 
  • Do your research on how well the brand is going on ethical and green issues. Planting a tree after every sale doesn’t count
  • Ask yourself: do I really need this?
  • Remember, the most sustainable item is the one already hanging in your wardrobe
  • Swap, thrift, upcycle 
  • Do not follow “current” trends. Your personal style and taste will look much better on you. There’s no such a thing as current anyway. We’ve seen everything twice already.

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