High School Student Seeks Sponsorship for Sustainable Gym Wear
by Amy Inkster
Last month, Elise Pullar, a William Aberhart High School student, approached us looking for a sponsor to help make gym class a little bit greener. In her article she explains why organic, fair trade uniforms are so much more than a t-shirt.
Clothing is a way of self-expression for some, and simply a cover up for others. For all of us it’s a basic human need. With garments being sold in every shopping center around the world, have you ever stopped to think: How was this clothing made and what is it made of?
When we consider environmental challenges; pollution, toxins and habitat loss come to mind, but we don’t often associate these problems with what we wear. The truth is that the manufacture of clothing greatly contributes to water waste, pesticide use and energy consumption. Let’s take a cotton shirt for instance. The cotton started in a field and was constantly sprayed with pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Field workers had to breathe in these chemicals every day. While the cotton was transported to a factory to be processed, the pesticides stayed in the soil and were carried elsewhere by rain, wind and animals. Although pesticides are used to kill insects on plants, they end up poisoning fish and wildlife in the surrounding area. Fertilizer and pesticide products do not easily degrade. They leach into ground and surface water freely. In the long term, pesticides bioaccumulate in the food chain and negatively impact human health. In regular textile production, bleach, dyes and chemicals have an equally negative impact on ecosystems, health and biodiversity.
Once the fabric has been made, it is often shipped a developing country to be assembled and sewn. To lower the manufacturing costs, workers are often underpaid and made to work in unacceptable conditions. Sometimes even young children are hired and taken advantage of. Furthermore the fabric travels a long distance which causes air pollution and CO2 emissions.
When I learned about all this, I wanted to change my consumer habits but I also wanted other people to be aware of the ethical implications when purchasing clothing. This is why I am trying to implement eco-friendly, ethically produced T-shirts into my high school. The director of athletics at my school was very excited when I proposed this innovative idea of changing all the gym strip shirts to a more sustainable option.
Me to We Style is where we are hoping to purchase our apparel from. This Toronto based social enterprise is committed to selling high quality, Canadian made clothing that is organically certified and sweatshop free. In addition, 50% of the profits will go to Free the Children (an international charity involving the largest network of children helping children through education) in support of their development projects in impoverished locations around the world.
My high school hopes to make a preliminary order of 500 t-shirts for the Phys. Ed students this fall. These shirts are about $4 more expensive than our current shirts. The problem is that my director needs the price to be kept the same in order to convince the students to make the switch. To cover these costs we are hoping for a donation or sponsorship from a sustainable company. In exchange for this $2000 sponsorship we are willing to put the company logo on all 500 of the T-shirt sleeves! These T-shirts will not only save 165lbs. of pesticides from entering our ecosystems but the logo will be exposed to students everyday. Plus, Me to We Style plants a tree for every t-shirt purchased. That’s 500 trees!
Me to We Style would also like to offer the sponsoring company 15% off their own wholesale order if placed within 90 days of confirming sponsorship, as well as four VIP tickets to Free the Children’s next We Day in Alberta, an event inspiring positive change with previous guest speakers including Martin Sheen, Liz Murray and Larry King.
If you are interested in supporting my school in the effort to change high school students’ views about what they wear and the environmental and ethical impacts behind clothing, please contact Amy Inkster at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will forward the message onto me.
Let’s promote environmental awareness in this generation together!