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I love a good t-shirt. And when I say good, I mean in every sense of the word. It has to look good. Feel good. And do good. Not too much to ask… right? 😉
Clothing is one of the major ways we express ourselves. It hints at what our values may be and how we connect to the world. From the material (natural or synthetic), to production (fair or slave labour) to how we treat our garments (with care or landfill), each piece offers a subtle clue about who we are. But if subtle’s not your vibe, nothing shouts louder than a slogan t-shirt.
People Tree* recently sent me their Equality slogan tee* (a gift), marking 26 years of equality in their business. It is made from 100% organic cotton (GOTS certified by the Soil Association) by Assisi Garments – a social businesses based in South India, who employ a workforce of 300 and provide training and employment for deaf, mute and economically disadvantaged women as well as investing in the surrounding community through various social projects including a cancer hospital and an AIDS rehabilitation centre.
I received a size 12, which is lucky as I tend to like a looser fit when it comes to t-shirts. The moment I put it on I heard my husband exclaim “well, that’s a lovely t-shirt!” – always good to hear!
It’s soft (as I’ve found is often the case with organic cotton pieces) and extremely wearable – teaming it with a pair of second-hand Levi 501 jeans for its first outing because… January…but the moment the weather gets warm enough to get my legs out, I’ll be reaching for my fave denim shorts (also second-hand).
The slogan couldn’t be more fitting. Equality has always been at the forefront of People Tree’s values ever since they started in 1991, with a focus on supporting both men and women, including disadvantaged workers within all stages of the supply chain; adhering to the principles of fair trade for all producers and workers – in short, everyone gets the same rights.
In fact, People Tree* is the world’s first clothing company to receive the World Fair Trade Organisation product mark, which involves meeting the WFTO’s 10 principles surrounding equality in the workforce:
- Opportunities for disadvantaged producers
- Transparency & accountability
- Fair Trade practices
- Fair payment
- No child labour, no forced labour
- No discrimination, gender equity, freedom of association
- Good working conditions
- Capacity building
- Promote Fair Trade
- Respect for the environment
When I first made the decision to quit buying fast fashion (shortly before embarking on my zero waste lifestyle), my first port of call was People Tree. They were already on my radar, easy to find and I liked their collections as well as their ethos. I loved that a respect for people and planet flowed through every thread and how each garment told the story of who made it. My first piece was a waffle knit sweater in organic cotton and I still wear it often.
One of the original pioneers of sustainable clothing, People Tree helped me realise that fashion could not only look good but do good.
As well as shopping second hand, I’m a firm believer in the benefits of organic cotton – and want to drive demand for conventional cotton farmers to switch to organic cotton farming. According to the Textile Exchange, currently only 0.4% of global cotton production is organic (I would highly recommend downloading their free cotton report for everything you need to know about the organic cotton market).
Not only is organic cotton better for the farmers’ health and pocket, it also offers them food security as they are required to grow more than just cotton to preserve biodiversity and fix nitrogen in the soil. Should their cotton crop fail or they get hit by a drop in market price, the farmers can supplement their income by selling any surplus food crops and feed themselves, their families and their wider community.
Add to this the fact that organic farming builds soil health which helps fight climate change by locking in carbon emissions, healthy soil also enables farmers to produce crops without the need of expensive synthetic chemical inputs and it uses less water than conventionally farmed cotton. Both people and planet benefit from organic, which is why I always choose it.
If you want to learn more about why choosing organic cotton is so darn awesome, you can watch this mini-documentary I made last year.
So when I do buy new, I look for pieces made from natural materials, preferably organic and I follow up with a request for no plastic packaging if possible. The last time I checked, People Tree were still using recyclable plastic to protect each piece during delivery but I know they are keen to find an alternative and it’s something they are actively looking into. In the meantime, simply emailing and requesting no plastic bag is a possible option, and they kindly sent me this tee without any plastic.
I was lucky enough to see what People Tree have up their organic cotton sleeves this coming season at an event before Christmas and I can tell you, it’s good. And when I say good, I mean it in every sense of the word. Natch.
I already have my eye on this boiler suit*!
Roll on summer!