Politically driven and charitable slogan tees have become a popular choice of temporary attire over the years with a multitude of new designs being brought out to support charities and fundraisers in raising cash for and awareness of their causes every year. And while it can seem helpful and charitable at the time to purchase a slogan tee, actually in reality it can be wasteful (over 300,000 tonnes of textiles are sent to landfill each year) expensive & unethical. Think about how many times you’ve actually worn one and how many have you resigned to the black bin liner already?
Under normal circumstances charitable slogan tees are regularly released by charities such as Children in Need, Red Nose Day ect. but amidst the multitude of crises that 2020 has suffered, a flood of charitable slogan tees have been created and churned out by fast fashion outlets, such as In the style, ASOS and Boohoo that display messages such as “BE KIND” (RIP Ms Flack), “Save the NHS” (Covid-19) and “I Can’t Breath” (RIP George Floyd) with the monies raised going to support causes such as the Samaritans, the NHS, and the Black Lives Matter Movement – which is perfectly wonderful and that is not the issue in the slightest. The issue lies in the vast quantity of resources being used and the consequential, almost guaranteed, waste that is being created to make these slogan tees – along with the fact that brands (*cough,cough* Boohoo) are exploiting workers to create them throughout a world pandemic.
Now what is charitable about that?
And also, according to the Fashion Revolution, it takes 2720 litres of water to make just one T-shirt. So while a COVID-19 slogan tee or Black Lives Matter shirt may seem the fashionable thing to do the cost of them is a lot higher when it comes to modern slavery, human rights, and the negative impacts on the environment – a much bigger cost than the money that is being raised. Of course it is VITAL that these charities get the monetary support they need, so the best thing to do is to directly donate to the causes and not line the pockets of a fast fashion company in the process.
Venetia La Manna, a sustainability activist, brilliantly said in a column for The Independent in regards to producing slogan tees during a pandemic:
“We may be raising valuable money for healthcare workers, but we’re simultaneously putting the lives of the people who make our clothes at risk. This puts extra pressure on healthcare workers in other parts of the world, so we’re thereby contributing to a never-improving system.”
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The unsettling truth about this pandemic is that it’s not the “great equaliser” Madonna described it as. It’s the most vulnerable that will suffer the most — and that applies to the fashion supply chain, too. When we buy a T-shirt, those people, not style, should be at the forefront of our minds. We may be raising valuable money for healthcare workers, but we’re simultaneously putting the lives of the people who make our clothes at risk. This puts extra pressure on healthcare workers in other parts of the world, so we’re thereby contributing to a never-improving system. And, the last time I checked, fashion wasn’t an essential item. “T-shirt activism shouldn’t be a substitute for actually doing the work and supporting the charities or causes long-term. It shouldn’t be the ‘good deed’ these large companies tick off to make themselves look better, which sadly I feel it often is.” @cantgoout_imsick If you absolutely love a slogan T-shirt and you know you’ll wear it for years, whether or not you click ‘buy’ is obviously your decision, but in a time of a global health crisis, do we really need a T-shirt to make a statement? If you really want a slogan on your tee, why not customise an existing top and donate directly to your chosen charity instead? It’s not as if we’re short on time. No more excuses: we must consider the entire supply chain and rally for the rights of the people making our clothes — now, more than ever. I’ve left the link to my full article on @the.independent @indepdentlifestyle in my stories, please do have a read and let me know what you think.
BUT… not all slogan tees are cut from the same unethical fast-fashion cloth.
Take BBC Earth’s collection of garments and tees which are created in partnership with Teemill, for example. Now, we know that the BBC is infamous for their lack of transparency, but BBC Earth seems to be as transparent as they can be with features, such as a garment journey tracker, available on their website. And, equally as important, all of the garments that are available to buy have been designed and made with a circular economy in mind.
On Teemill’s website they state:
“Every year 100 billion new items of clothing are produced while a truck full of clothing is burned, or buried in a landfill every second. Slowing fast fashion down is a good first step, but slowing it down won’t stop it. Yet when we take the waste material at the end, and make new products from it at the start, it changes everything. That’s what we’ve done.
Our products and packaging are made from natural materials, not plastic. And every product we make is designed to be sent back to us when it is worn out.
We make new products from the material we recover, and the cycle itself is renewable. Our products are designed to be returned and remade, new from old, again and again and again.
A pure material makes re manufacturing possible, and means products that are softer, and not harmful to the environment.”
However, of course BBC Earth’s products are only inspired by content that is produced by BBC Earth, so you won’t be finding a topical slogan there. But, it is a great inspiration that many future slogan tee producers can take note of and it’s the perfect demonstration of ethical, and eco-friendly creation.