Green Propaganda and Our Confederacy of Dunces


Often when you see images of the earth, recycle signs and other eco-slogans on t-shirts, you just assume the t-shirt itself is made from sustainable materials, right?


In fact, next time you’re out, take a look at the tag and you’ll see that most are made from conventional cottons and toxic dyes. It makes me wonder who should be held more accountable, the manufacturer pushing the blatant greenwashing or the consumer who fails to be conscious?

To prove the point that most t-shirts aren’t eco at all, I did two basic searches: “Save The Earth T-shirts,” and “Recycle T-shirts.”

While lots of sites came up, not one on the first page was even close to organic.

Is saving the earth or recycling so trendy that green propaganda has immeasurable power to persuade even the best-intentioned tree hugger? Is our confederacy of dunces really so strong?

Katherine Hamnett, one of the UK’s leading designers, is well known for her own t-shirt propaganda in 1984 when she wore a t-shirt opposing the purchase of US Pershing missiles at a reception attended by Margaret Thatcher. She writes in an Ecologist article that the farming of conventional cotton is: “A modern-day nightmare: 400 million cotton farmers in the developing world are living in conditions of abject poverty due to the high costs and negative health impacts of pesticides used on cotton; up to 100,000 people (Pesticide Action Network) are dying every year of accidental pesticide poisoning; up to 1 million a year are suffering from acute long-term poisonings; 200,000 farmers commit suicide per year. Conventional cotton farming also causes long-term contamination of aquifers, rivers, the seas and air and desertification.”

With all this in mind, is simply wearing a cotton t-shirt promoting saving the earth acceptable? Not even close.

Image via G Living

Amy DuFault

Amy DuFault is a conscious lifestyle writer, consultant and fashion instigator. She resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.