Your New Favorite T-Shirt Is Trash

An unfortunate modern truth: trash is everywhere. There are 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the ocean between California and Hawaii—otherwise known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. At the Puente Hills Landfill outside Los Angeles, a 500-foot trash mountain towers so high it was forced to stop accepting more refuse in 2013. Another, somewhat smaller trash anecdote: while visiting a yarn manufacturer in the southern United States a few years ago, the designer Iris Alonzo started poking around and learned an astonishing fact.

“So what’s your waste stream look like?’” she recalls asking the man she was working with at a manufacturer during the early stages of product development.

“‘Uh, we’ve got about 500,000 pounds [of waste].’” he said, according to Alonzo. “And I’m thinking, like, a year. And he’s like, ‘A week. At one plant.’”

Some six years later, Alonzo and Carolina Crespo preside over Everybody.World, where they’ve made it their business to do exactly what they were told they couldn’t: make T-shirts out of trash. And they’re not alone. Upcycling used material into apparel has turned into a major industry-wide initiative at corporations like Adidas, which has an ongoing partnership with Parley for the Ocean to turn plastic found in the sea into shoes. Kering, the conglomerate that owns Gucci and Coach, put together a Fashion Pact that sealed the commitment of brands like H&M, Gap, Nike, Ralph Lauren and a whole host of luxury labels to reduce pollution and put the brakes on global warming. All this is done in the name of taking fashion off the list of top global offenders when it comes to pollution. A United Nations study found that the fashion industry produces “20 percent of global wastewater and 10 percent of global carbon emissions.”

a black tshirt on a black background with a white tag
Everybody.World’s Recycled Cotton Classic Trash TeeCourtesy of Everybody.World

But the latest wave of eco-warrior fashion brands are much more brazen about the work they’re doing. Lately, trash itself has received a warm and loving embrace from select brands in the industry. These are the labels that want to elevate the value of trash rather than suppress it. In August, Noah announced a new tee made out of “waste yarns from other cotton productions” in a blog post titled: This Tee Is Garbage. Over the summer, in collaboration with National Geographic, the North Face released a collection of tees made out of repurposed bottles with the text: “This T-Shirt Was Trash.” And Alonzo’s Everybody.World is releasing a trash hoodie in the near future. Up is down; left is right; grails are trash.

This post was originally published on this page

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.