Recycling T-Shirts With St. Francis

Foley Orthodontics gives t-shirts to new patients and finished patients. Rather than reorder the new shirts that we had been giving out in the past, we decided to go in a different direction. That’s where the St. Francis fifth graders came into the picture!

Cotton is a crop that requires A LOT of pesticides, insecticides and water. The students learned that frequently buying and printing t-shirts for various events hurts the environment. Buying lots of new clothes, while fun, adds to the amount of discarded textiles that are shipped overseas. The countries that receive these discarded clothes are struggling to handle our surplus. Just as we have to be mindful of too much packaging on products and recycling glass, paper and plastic, we also need to realize that donating items to Goodwill and other charities doesn’t completely fix the problem. There is no AWAY when we say “throw it away” or “give it away.” We need to be more thoughtful before we buy a new item so we don’t add to our ever-increasing piles of garbage.

The St. Francis students helped us select gently used shirts at two Goodwill Stores. (About ten percent of the shirts were brand new with the tags still on!)

After the shirts were washed on a sterilizing wash cycle and dried on high heat, our NEW SMILES / RECYCLED SHIRTS logo was printed with organic ink on the back. These shirts will not shrink because they have definitely been washed in hot water! We have a terrific mix of styles, colors and sizes. Some have university logos on the front and others have sports teams, rock groups or kittens. Some are blank.

The patients get to select their shirts from a half dozen or so in their size. When they wear these shirts, they are sending the message that they truly support the basic concepts of recycling, conservation and careful consumerism. This is a bit of a marketing experiment and a gamble on our part. We are optimistic that our patients will love it!

recycling t-shirtsThe students at St. Francis de Sales have given us their posters to display in our office. We hope you’ll take a close look when you come in. Here are some quotes from a few of their papers:

“Recycling t-shirts helps the environment. There are 3 reasons why you should recycle. First, people save money by buying resold t-shirts. Second, the process of making new t-shirts costs a great deal of money and uses many resources. Finally, the dye on the t-shirts is toxic and can harm the environment.” E. G.

“Recycling T-Shirts benefits the whole world. It saves money, it conserves resources, and it helps the environment.” J. Y.

“The process of making t-shirts costs a great deal of money because cotton is very expensive to treat, a lot of money is used for water usage, and the process of transportation is very expensive.” C. M.