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Changing The Shirt

Christopher Mathew | Thursday, November 17, 2011

Did you know that it takes 40,000 liters of water to produce the cotton needed for a single t-shirt, that current industry practices will waste hundreds more during the production process, a process that involves carcinogenic chemicals and dyes, one often carried in outsourced factories employing children for less than $2 a day? Obviously, intelligent ways of fabricating clothing are going to be an important part of building a sustainable society, yet few people are aware of the real costs of their clothes. Case in point: The Shirt, which sells to over 160,000 fans each year.

A company called SustainU is looking to change that in its bid to provide the 2012 Shirt. Founded by a Notre Dame graduate and former fullback for the Fighting Irish, SustainU is making sensible changes in the way we think about clothing. I believe there is no better way for them to do so than The Shirt, a non-profit garment that already speaks volumes about Notre Dame’s global mission. By contracting SustainU, we could send a strong message to the Notre Dame community and the rest of the world, all while saving 200,000,000 gallons of water, 400,000 kg of CO2 emissions and 25,000 gallons of gasoline that would otherwise be used in production and shipping. What’s more, SustainU would utilize recycled materials and sustainable techniques in the textile process. Its services would divert 1.4 million plastic bottles from our waste stream (q.v. Virginia Tech’s rally towels) and subtract 50,000 pounds of cloth from our landfills.

Securing a license to produce Notre Dame items costs a manufacturer $40,000, but few of them can claim that their offerings will actually brighten Notre Dame’s image and build upon our university’s story of sustainability. And hey, who can argue with breaking the streak of putting carcinogens in our Shirt prints? That’s why I would encourage all of you to join me in supporting SustainU in its bid for the next Shirt. Together, we can build a better future.

Please send your thoughts to The Shirt Project at theshirt@nd.edu, or Student Government at studegov@nd.edu!

Christopher Mathew

senior

Stanford Hall

Nov. 16