NPR Unravels the Story of a T-shirt

NPR's Planet Money is broadcasting a program that takes its audience behind the scenes of the textile manufacturing industry and briefly touches on the Afterlife of American Clothes. You can listen to it on the radio program daily this week, but even better are the videos available online at the Planet Money T-shirt site (there is also an archive of reports and blogs available).  The show was inspired by the book: The Travels Of A T-shirt In The Global Economy.

Planet Money does not go far enough in criticizing the immense environmental impact or social injustice that stems from the clothing industry. We consider that a shortcoming (see our Environmental Impact page and our blog The Hidden Cost of Used Clothes for examples of what needs to be said). Let us be clear, the current system of growing cotton and other fibers and manufacturing textiles comes with enormous environmental costs — including global warming impacts — and exploits workers.

NPR posted a blog that focuses on the Afterlife of American Clothes.  We are happy that this post, albeit brief, was included as part of the focus on textiles. The report accurately points out that charities such as Goodwill (along with Planet Aid and others) sell their used clothing donations to vendors in developing countries.  But the article does not even begin to examine the immense used clothing economy in the developing world, which includes many small businesses.  It also fails to indicate that Americans do not recycle enough clothing, and that 85 percent still ends up in a landfill or is incinerated. We hope to see more about these topics in the coming days.