What Can T-Shirts Tell You about Your Community?

Orange t-shirt featuring pirates

You get one for doing a 5K. You get one at concerts. You get one for applying for a credit card and for supporting a political candidate.  You get one on vacation to show off where you’ve been, as well as from the school where you just got accepted so you can tell everyone where you’re going.

T-shirts are everywhere — for sale or for free. They’re bulletin boards we wear on our chests that tell us a lot about our community and ourselves.  If you’re willing to put something across your chest, you’re probably a supporter of it.

That’s why whenever I go to a new area and check out thrift stores, the first place I go is the t-shirt aisle.  There, I find a lot of answers to a long list of questions about the area: What ideas and businesses do people support? What types of activities do they do? What organizations, churches and schools do they associate themselves with and how do they see the world?

It’s like getting a peek into a community’s real identity.

Red Oklahoma T-Shirt

But all that cotton demands a lot of resources to grow, process, dye, print and transport to your t-shirt filled closets. That’s why thrift stores like Goodwill® are a great place to start when you’re looking for a t-shirt to support your local sports team, a vintage tee to wear around town, or one in a color that you don’t usually wear—just to try.

Trust me, you’ll find it there. There is no lack of t-shirts in the world. And if there’s one thing I learned on the RV trip last summer, it’s that you can almost always find an “I (heart) NY” and/or a Brett Favre t-shirt in just about any thrift store.

Yellow T-Shirt with Video Girl

So if you’ve got a ton of t-shirts in your closet that you no longer need, think of donating them to your local Goodwill. Through its entrepreneurial business model of collecting and selling items like t-shirts, Goodwill helps your community extend the life of usable items in environmentally sound ways and prevents items from piling up in local landfills.

And if you want to keep them, try making a quilt, or turning them into an adorable addition to your wardrobe.  Here is one of many websites where you can find out how to ‘up-cycle’ your tees.  You can also use cut-up squares from old t-shirts as household rags.

So next time you need a tee, check out your local Goodwill and learn a little about where you live. And if you want to make more room in your closet before you go, bring them with you. It’s just the green thing to do!