Can a t-shirt cost 3,50$?

Mode et design Textiles: info et entretien


can a t-shirt cost $3.50?

Let's be honest, okay?

We can't imagine for a fraction of a second that a new cotton t-shirt can be sold for $3.50 each. However, do your research, it does exist in many physical and virtual stores.

But how can this be possible? And what is the consumer really buying when they purchase a shirt at this price?

The ''journey'' of a T-shirt

First of all, for each step, we have to keep in mind that there are employees who have to do the handling.

Step 1 : the cultivation of cotton

 cultivation of cotton

At the beginning, the land must be prepared, the seed planted and then watered with water and pesticides before reaching maturity to give the desired fiber. It will then be harvested by machines requiring gasoline.

It is estimated that 25% of the world's pesticides are used for cotton alone.

Step 2: spinning the cotton
In order to undergo the second stage, the cotton fiber must be transported to another location with the necessary machinery, again using fuel, where it will be cleaned (water) and spun (energy).

Step 3: weaving the cotton into textile
The yarn is then woven in different ways to obtain the desired textile.

Step 4: coloring

coloring textile

This step can take place at the spinning stage or when the textile is completed. It requires again water and dyes more or less toxic depending on the process. Here, although grandiose, we will disregard the ecological cost of dye discharges into the waterways ...

Step 5 : the design, the cut and the sewing

The textile is then sent to a workshop where different employees will work in a chain to cut and then sew it for a desired result.

Step 6: transportation to a point of sale

If, for example, the sweater leaves China to go to Quebec, it will have to travel about 12,500 km... At our company, buyers and representatives will work together to get the best part of the cake.

Step 7: the point of sale itself

The sweater will first end up in a warehouse from where it will most of the time be transported to a store. Transportation here may be fairly local, but the facilities and electricity of the retail outlets are not insignificant.

Bottom line:

working conditions
There will be at least a dozen employees involved in making a t-shirt and selling it. So, 3,50 / 12= 0.29$ per employee! It's a rough calculation, but it gives you an idea, doesn't it?
  • One of the big cotton growers is the United States. It is grown there, transported to China for example, where it is processed and then returned to America to be sold. That can be more than 25,000 km of transport.
  • 10,000 liters of water are used to manufacture a T-shirt.
  • 25% of the world's pesticides are used to grow cotton.
  • Several machines are needed (cultivated, transported, transformed...).

For a company to produce sweaters at such a low cost, there is certainly no magic.

The three most expensive elements are raw material, transportation and human resources. Transportation here is very inflexible, we're even seeing a price spike on that.

What this results in the end are sweaters of a very poor quality that will deform quickly, that will lose their color... and that are created in totally unacceptable working conditions and still today, partly by children.

It is therefore a grandiose pollution and a flagrant lack of ethics that is encouraged when they are purchased.

Ecologically yours,


eco  loco

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