Have you ever looked at the ubiquitous symbol of comfort that is the t-shirt and thought about the ‘ingredients’ that go into the finished product? Take the two most obvious: water and cotton. One organic cotton t-shirt is coaxed into existence by more than 400 gallons of water. Conventional cotton production accounts for roughly a quarter of all pesticides used in the U.S., according to the USDA. That’s a heavy load to wear.
Even though Portland Farmers Market is in the food business, we dabble in the world of apparel when we choose which t-shirts to offer for retail sale at the markets. Each year, we take a close look at the sourcing and components of the apparel we select, seeking out merchandise that reflects our values to the greatest extent possible. We believe our name belongs on only the most local and sustainable option out there. That’s why we are particularly excited to partner with Looptworks to create our t-shirts for the upcoming season. Looptworks is a Portland-based apparel manufacturing company using 100% “upcycled” materials. Rather than manufacturing shirts from new materials, Looptworks uses quality, unused fabric that is destined to be discarded before it is made into finished pieces when the factory has completed a production run. This means everything Looptworks creates is from pre-consumer excess. The company’s goal is to promote closed loop manufacturing by making good use of surplus textiles, pushing for textile recycling at the community level, and advocating for textiles to be recycled into new fabrics. As a result, the manufacturing ‘loop’ is complete with less or no new materials needed. Bottom line: Looptworks is in the business of turning waste into want. That’s exactly the kind of company Portland Farmers Market is proud to support.
For a closer look at life cycle of apparel, see this article from Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed journal published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.