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The True Cost of One Cotton Tee Shirt

December 11th, 2017 9:00am

The True Cost of One Cotton Tee Shirt

The following information was compiled by Jason Liszkiewicz in January 2010. The result of a one year project to create public awareness about something so mundane that we have taken it for granted. Do we ever think about the true cost of even the simplest items we produce? Not just the labor and supplies cost, but also the cost to humanity and the environment.

For example, what really goes into the production of one cotton t-shirt? You are wearing one right now. Where did it come from, how was it made, and how did it get to you?

The data gathered here will hopefully stimulate conversation about the water, energy, human labor, toxins, migration, and inventive practices that go into the products we own. Are we really aware of the complex processes that produce even the most basic manmade items we have come to depend on in our global commercial modern society?

Over the course of one year the following statistical information become available. It covers the production of one cotton tee shirt from seed to sales floor. First hand research along with information from 30 sources comprise the contents of this shirt.


One Cotton Tee Shirt

Non-organic, foreign made, 200gram/7oz/.44lbs

Water Use

570 gallons (45% irrigation)

Energy Consumption

8 kWh (machines), 11 to 29 gallons of fuel (land/sea)


5500 to 9400+ miles


NoX, SO2, CO, CO2, N2O, volatile compounds


1 to 3 grams of pesticides, diesel exhaust, heavy metals (dyes)

Child Labor

17 countries, .50 cents/day


It is absolutely amazing that after all of this, a tee shirt can be purchased for roughly $10.00. Just think of all the tee shirts worn on a daily basis world wide. It must be in the billions. Even the most poor wear tee shirts.

Understanding what is actually going into the produce we buy is essential to educate our children if we are to create a better future for mankind. Unchecked capitalism and the mandated negative trend of upward mobility worldwide has created a global society dependant on cheap products made lord knows where and of what. To the capitalists, it doesn't matter. They'd sell the planet to the highest bidder despite not having anyplace to go if they could. It doesn't concern them, they are insulated one way or the other. Hopefully their laws of diminished returns will one day come to light as our children become more aware of the plot against us. But only with proper education.

Do you know why we as a society always repeat the same mistakes over and over again? It's because the past and the process is hidden from us.


Baron- T3






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