Earth Day is on Wednesday, April 22nd this year and I’m always pleased to see people wearing Earth Day shirts promoting environmental responsibility. But ironically, most of these graphic tees are not Earth friendly.
Most t-shirts are made with cotton. In fact the cotton plant produces a fiber that is used in most clothing. I first learned about issues in the cotton industry in the 2015 groundbreaking documentary The True Cost. Due to fast fashion and increased consumption, the majority of cotton is now genetically modified to increase production. Genetically modified (GM) cotton uses large amounts of water and chemicals with dangerous consequences. Large amounts of cotton are grown in India, and as demands for the crop grow, so have uses of pesticides and fertilizers, which contaminate the soil. This contamination has led to an alarming rise in birth defects and cancers. Organic cotton, on the other hand, uses 90% less irrigation than other cotton and eliminates chemical runoff into our earth and water systems.
Shirts that are not 100% organic cotton may also contain synthetic fibers. the most dangerous micro-plastics are especially prevalent in synthetic materials in our clothing. Fabrics like polyester, nylon, and acrylic are polluting our waters with every wash. The shedded plastic fibers end up in our water systems and air ways, which means we are also ingesting these fibers. According to National Geographic, we consume thousands of bits of plastic every year.
What’s the solution? Do your research before buying a t-shirt. This can be as simple as checking the materials on the tag. Or let me do the research for you! Here are some of my favorite Earth Day tees, which are all Earth friendly, so you know, they actually support your cause.
Wholesome Culture has become my favorite brand for graphic tees. Wholesome Culture has a variety of ethically made tees, long sleeves, and sweatshirts that support different causes. I especially love their crew necks! Each tee is made with 100% combed and ringspun cotton, and is hand screen printed in Brooklyn using water-based ink. The company gives 10% of its profit to animal rescue and environmental organizations.
Happy Earth Apparel
Happy Earth Apparel has a large variety of cute tees, long sleeve shirts, sweatshirts etc. for men and women. The company only sources sustainable textiles, and their packaging is made with all recyclable and post-consumer materials, so there is zero waste. This company has an amazing environmental impact. Happy Earth funds projects that slash greenhouse gas pollution, keep plastics out of our oceans, and plant more trees. In fact, for every product purchased you can choose to plan 15 trees. Pretty cool.
Madewell Do Well
I love Madewell’s Do Well collection, which includes fair trade denim, clothing made with tencel and recycled cotton, reusable bottles, cups, and market bags, and graphic tees made through partnerships with various charities. 50% of profits from this line go to charity. You can learn more about Madewell’s Do Well program here.
Athleta has set a lot of sustainability goals and is making great progress. Athleta is a B Corp certified company, 60% of the company’s fabrics are made using sustainable fibers, and they have empowered thousands of women by including fair trade garments. The athleisure company has made a small collection of Earth Day graphic tees in time for the holiday.
People Tree + Fusion
People Tree has been one of the pioneers and leaders of fair trade and sustainable fashion since 1997. People Tree partnered with Fusion Clothing Company to make these adorable eco friendly tees made with 100% GOTS certified organic cotton. The shirts are produced without harsh chemicals or additives. Plus, they’re currently on sale!
Green Label Organic
Green Label Organic is a family owned business operating out of the Blueridge Mountains in Virginia. It was created by an awesome couple- he is a T-shirt designer and she is an organic grower and environmentalist. Their low-impact garment dyed t-shirts are made with 100% organic cotton. The company is passionate about the environment, fair trade, and sustainability. They also sell kids’ shirts!