A band shirt wont make or break an artist’s backside line, nevertheless it certain may also help within the dismal financial panorama that’s the indie music trade. On the similar time, there’s an excessive amount of clothes on our planet: The style trade reportedly causes anyplace between 2 to 10 p.c of world carbon emissions, and a few specialists say that the one answer is to cut back consumption and decrease manufacturing. So what’s an eco-conscious musician trying to gasoline up the van by promoting a couple of T-shirts to do? Just like the efforts to make vinyl extra sustainable, environmentally pleasant merch isn’t going to do an amazing deal in reversing the ravages of world warming, nevertheless it couldn’t harm both. Producing Earth-friendly merch, nonetheless, is dearer. For a lot of acts barely getting by, selecting between producers can imply the distinction between a worthwhile tour and a not-so-profitable one.
Will your favourite band T-shirt outlive you? The reply, like each side of sustainable vogue, is sophisticated. (In conversations about moral consumption, “sustainable” usually turns into a imprecise buzzword; right here, we imply clothes that has a minimal influence on the setting and is manufactured utilizing moral labor practices.) A majority of band shirts are created from one hundred pc cotton, a naturally occurring and due to this fact technically biodegradable materials, if left untreated. However the manufacturing of cotton requires large quantities of water and land, rendering it environmentally unsustainable. Barely higher is natural cotton, which has a smaller environmental footprint since it’s produced with out artificial chemical substances. Finally, recycled cotton, which is derived from post-consumer or post-industrial waste, is taken into account to be probably the most sustainable, nevertheless it comes at the next worth level. Then there’s the ink that turns a boring tee into an announcement of fan loyalty: water-based or plastic. Each have totally different environmental footprints, and whereas water-based would possibly appear just like the cleaner possibility, it will probably nonetheless trigger environmental injury if dealt with and disposed of improperly.
Wading by all of those elements takes time and power, and the reality is commonly extra sophisticated than statistics would recommend. Many organizations are responsible of greenwashing, a misleading advertising observe that prioritizes a sustainable picture over concrete commitments. The issue goes past promoting: A current New York Instances investigation, for instance, discovered that India’s natural cotton certification course of is rife with corruption. None of that is terribly clear for shoppers or musicians.
“We’ve got spent years looking for an affordable clean shirt that we really feel is definitely moral and by no means have,” says punk iconoclast Jeff Rosenstock. “They’ve this WRAP [Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production] certification however the deeper down the rabbit gap you go, the extra you see that certification is form of bullshit.” Because the chief of the collective Bomb the Music Business! within the mid-2000s, Rosenstock consciously rejected the idea of monetizing music and merch. Followers would deliver plain T-shirts to reveals, and band members would stencil and spray paint their emblem without cost. “It wasn’t at all times a shirt,” Rosenstock notes. “To our shock, a number of individuals requested us to tag their automobiles.” By 2010, Bomb the Music Business! started promoting conventional printed shirts, albeit ones that acknowledged their “cashing in.”