I bought a shirt yesterday. Yep. You heard me right. I am (almost) ashamed to say I spent real money on a shirt. A shirt I didn’t need!
It was just soooo blue, like the ocean in travel magazines. It was just toooo pretty, like a cheerful flower. It even declares “Today is a Great Day to Change the World!” But best of all, my purchase provides 30 meals for a hungry child! My shirt is a product that makes a difference.
So, why is this a confession, then?
Because this January I decided to sign-up for the Free Fashion Challenge, where I committed to not buy clothing for a year. (You can read about this here at Action: Little Black Dress). Usually I am not bothered by the fact I can’t buy new clothing. At least, as long as I stay away from any clothing stores and pretend I don’t care when there is an amazing sale going on.
The Guys Whose Business is Cause T-Shirts
But it is the “cause” stuff that gets me, making me want to buy new clothing. This new shirt I just bought is from Feed Just One. Each of their shirts feeds a child at a care home in Africa for 10 days. At least I broke my “no buying clothing for a year” deal for a great cause!
Usually my favorite place to get cause t-shirts from is Sevenly. Every week they design a new t-shirt to earn funds for a specific organization for a specific reason. These shirts are incredibly comfortable, coming in more styles than your typical man-T.
This week the collective $5 profit from each person who buys a shirt goes to Somaly Mam, an organization that assists girls who have been sex trafficked. Just since they put this shirt up a couple days ago, Sevenly has already raised almost $15K for Somaly Mam!
The power of the shirt. Who would have guessed it?
One Hundred Apparel is super cool; they sell trendy stuff, and mainly, 100% of their profits go to clean water. When you buy a shirt with them, you are literally giving someone(s) clean water for a lifetime!
Not For Sale sells monthly limited edition T-shirts connected with a rock band, in which all 100% of the profits are also used. These monies go to end modern slavery. Even if you don’t get a Free2Rock t-shirt, their other shirts are still very worth while, as purchasing them supports factory workers, women who are being trained vocationally who have been trafficked or are high-at-risk for being trafficked.
Another cool place to get a shirt is from WACONE (We AR3 Change). They sell shirts to help provide clothing, food, or water depending on what shirt you buy.
Project 7 does the same thing, letting you buy shirts whose proceeds go to the homeless, providing health care, a better environment, or feeding the hungry (or all the above). Their shirts are actually made with recycled bottles too! (How did they do that?). They sell other products as well, so check them out!
And there are more organizations which exist specifically to sell products like t-shirts to make a difference. If you know of others, let us know!
Your Every Org!
Then, besides these above organizations, most charities typically have some type of shirt whose proceeds go to help their cause. So if you love a specific charity, make sure their t-shirt isn’t made by slaves and then buy away! Support those causes to end poverty and injustice!
I can’t help but mention that the other benefit about getting a shirt for a cause that you care about is to create awareness of this cause. I asked someone about their shirt the other day, discovering it told the beginnings of TWLOHA (To Write Love on Her Arms), an organization which helps individuals who cut or hurt themselves.
So if you are passionate about something, say it! If you are scared of making people uncomfortable, I don’t think you have to worry about it much. My friend’s shirt didn’t make me feel uncomfortable, he wasn’t forcing an opinion on me. Rather, it made me respect the guy more for supporting that cause. And cause t-shirts are usually a lot less aggressive than a shirt that says “I’m hotter than his girlfriend” or one that has a forceful blast of religious or political statements. Most cause t-shirts to end oppression and poverty are not really controversial.
Yes, we can donate the cost of a new shirt, $20 or so, to whichever organization for whatever cause. We can give more money instead of getting a new t-shirt, so maybe sometimes (or even most of the time) we should just donate rather than get a shirt. But sometimes there is just something cool about having a shirt that expresses your values on your back.
Malaria 101 (Malaria t-shirt)
Action: Cover the Night to End Slavery (KONY 2012 Pt. 2) (Invisible Children t-shirt)
Action: Lemon:Aid Stand (Blood: Water Mission t-shirt)