Gallery: The Up-Shirt: A Tee With the World’s Smallest Environmental Footp...

Don't be fooled by the T-shirt's lack of frills. From raw materials to labor, each wardrobe staple carries an environmental burden that belies its simplicity of form. Millions, if not billions, or T-shirts are made and sold every year, whether to commemorate a concert or sporting event, declare an affiliation, or engage the zeitgeist. But factory-made tees can yield up to 40 percent wastage, according to Estonian designer Reet Aus. "That means 40 percent of that cotton is grown in vain and huge amounts of water and earth resources are wasted, not to mention spinning the yarn, transporting the fabric, factory labor...you get the idea," she says. Aus is part of a team that wants to turn that number on its head. Her solution? The Up-Shirt, a garment that uses a fraction of the water and energy required by its conventional counterparts.

PREVIOUSLY ON ECOUTERRE: Trash to Trend Debuts First Mass-Produced Upcycled-Clothing Collection

GOING UP

Together with Markus Vihma and Ann Runnel, Aus has devised a shirt made entirely from manufacturing leftovers. Because Aus and company use waste material that would otherwise be chucked in a landfill, each Up-Shirt requires 91 percent less water and generates 82 percent fewer carbon emissions.

The Up-shirt uses 91 percent less water and generates 82 percent fewer carbon emissions.

This isn’t Aus’s first attempt at upcycling on an industrial level. As the founder of “Trash to Trend”, a community-cum-digital-platform that seeks to extend the lives of production offcuts and roll-ends, Aus has been working to reproduce textile-repurposing efforts on an unprecedented scale.

Aus has tapped Beximco, the same Bangladesh factory that brought her first Trash to Trend collection to fruition, to create the Up-Shirt. Beximco, she says, is her ideal partner. “They are ‘vertically integrated,’ which means that all steps of the production are done in one place,” she explains. “Their production and supply chain is transparent, and they are cooperating with the International Labour Organisation to pay their workers triple the industry standard salary.”

The Up-Shirt, while not the cheapest garment around, will be competitively priced because it’s made responsibly, “without harming the planet or exploiting people,” she adds.

Early adopters can get in on the ground level by pledging as little as £5 at the Up-Shirt’s Kickstarter campaign. A donation of £20 snags you an Up-Shirt of your very own, in your choice of size, style, and cut.

+ The Up-Shirt at Kickstarter

+ Upmade

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