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T-Shirt Travels Review – 10: Lifecycle of a T-shirt

This last section of the book, focusing on the used clothing industry, is where t-shirts go from a commodity to unique, individual products. Just to be clear, the “used clothing industry” generally consists of excess clothing donated by Americans, sorting it, and then sending the majority of it to Africa, where it is eventually sold as individual pieces in t-shirt stalls.

Sometimes donated t-shirts are so worn down that they aren’t useful as apparel anymore. But just like the cotton farmers who found a revenue-generating use for their “waste”, so have the donation sorting companies. Old t-shirts are used in car doors and roofs, carpet pads, mattresses, cushions, insulation and caskets. Sometimes t-shirts even get reborn into yarn, which is then used to make more t-shirts. (187)