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Most of us buy products without thinking about where they are from. But if you are an environmentally conscious consumer, you also think about the impact of a product all across its life, or the “lifecycle.” Environmental impacts occur at many points during a product’s life:  when the raw material is extracted and processed, when the item manufactured, transported and distributed, and when it is used by the consumer, and ultimately, when it is disposed of. TF are focused on building sustainability into what we do and ensuring that we can make informed choices about what we wear, that lead to a healthy balanced life which facilitates productivity, contentment, wisdom and long term health.

Even small choices towards a more sustainable approach can be beneficial. Check out the Life Cycle of your T-Shirt for more details.

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1: Cotton Production

The cotton used to make your T-Shirt is 100% organic, unbleached cotton. It is grown in soil that is free from synthetic fertilizers and chemicals in Tanzania, is rain fed and is 100% GOTS certified. The company who grow the cotton used to make your T-Shirt are members of the Organic Exchange, a charitable organisation with a focus on promoting organically grown cotton and meet their manufacturing standards. Your T-Shirt carries the Organic Exchange (OE) label.


Growing organic cotton offers many benefits to the community and local environment, including:

• Better for the environment by avoiding chemical pesticides and fertilizers, that would otherwise pollute the land, water and air
• Better for plants and animals (many bees and frogs are disappearing because of the widespread use of pesticides)
• Not genetically modified
• Uses less water – all of our African cotton is naturally rain-fed, not artificially irrigated
• Farmers are paid a premium price for organic cotton and are given a purchase guarantee
• Premiums are paid towards community projects such as building wells for clean drinking water
• Healthier for the farmers, smallholders and rural communities of Tanzania

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2: Processing and Manufacturing

Your T-Shirt is from the Tender Loving Care range and carries the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified by Control Union. The GOTS certificate is a guarantee that the organic status of textiles is maintained from the harvesting of raw cotton to the point when the finished garment is dispatched. It further ensures this is done through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing processes.

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Key criteria for processing and manufacturing include:

• At all stages through the processing organic fibre products must be separated from conventional fibre products and must to be clearly identified
• All chemical inputs (e.g. dyes, auxiliaries and process chemicals) must be evaluated and meeting basic requirements on toxicity and biodegradability/eliminability
• Prohibition of critical inputs such as toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde, aromatic solvents, genetically modified organisms (GMO) and their enzymes
• The use of synthetic sizing agents is restricted; knitting and weaving oils must not contain heavy metals
• Bleaches must be based on oxygen (no chlorine bleaching)
• All operators must have an environmental policy including procedures to minimise waste and discharges
• Wet processing units must keep full records of the use of chemicals, energy, water consumption and waste water treatment, including the disposal of sludge. The waste water from all wet processing units must be treated in a functional waste water treatment plant.
• Packaging material must not contain PVC
• Technical quality parameters must be met (s.a. rubbing, perspiration, light and washing fastness and shrinkage values)
• Raw materials, intermediates, final textile products as well as accessories must meet stringent limits regarding unwanted residues
• Minimum social criteria based on the key norms of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) must be met by all processors
• GOTS relies on a dual system to check compliance with the relevant criteria consisting of on-site auditing and residue testing.

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3: Manufacturer’s CODE OF CONDUCT

The manufacturer’s appreciate the value of everyone who contributes to making their clothing and ensure they work in fair conditions for a fair wage. Beyond this, they support their local communities through training and support of community projects.
Their code of conduct is a shared commitment between them and their partner factories. These are the standards by which they live:
• No child labour
• No forced labour
• No physical disciplinary measures
• No migrant workforce
• No discrimination of any kind
• Fair wages, reasonable working hours and overtime pay in accordance with local legislation
• Freedom of association and rights to collective bargaining
• Factories maintain close ties with relevant Trade Unions to ensure safe, healthy and fair working conditions
• Paid maternity leave
• A clean, healthy and safe work environment
• On-site health clinics run by health professionals
• Policy of social accountability
• Anti-bribery policy
• Anti-corruption policy
• Protection and preservation of the local environment including:
• Consideration for scarce resources
• Careful waste management including Effluent
• Every country and every community is different, so our factories provide different benefits based on local needs. Some of these additional benefits at our partner factories in Tanzania, Turkey, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh include:
• Free or subsidised meals
• Free standard medication and health education
• Free transport
• Onsite childcare facilities
• Free housing or housing allowance
• Food assistance for employees’ families
• Holiday day trips for management and staff
• ISO14001 environmental management standards
• Support of local community groups

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4: Printing Company

The print company we used to print the design onto your T-Shirt are an eco-friendly screen printing T-shirt printing service, who are committed to running an environmentally friendly and ethical business and continually work to lower their impact on the environment. All their printing is done by hand using 100% water-based inks.

The company works hard to minimise their waste, and any waste they do produce is reused or recycled wherever possible and any organic matter is composted. All their stationery and greeting cards are printed on 100% recycled paper and they use biodegradable or recycled packaging where they can.

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5: Printing Inks

The majority of screen printers use plastisol inks which contain PVC and phthalates which are harmful to the environment. The inks used on your T-shirt contain no toxic chemicals and are also free from lead and other heavy metals. They do not contain ozone-depleting chemicals such as CFCs and HCFCs aromatic hydrocarbons or any volatile solvents, and as the inks are water-based the screens can be cleaned with water rather than solvents. The water-based ink we use have passed the Oekotex Class 1 standard so they are safe to use on babies clothes.
We use Permaset Aqua inks to print your T-shirt which provide an unsurpassed balance of softness and durability to wash, rub and dry-clean, eliminating the need for additives, together with excellent colour brightness. The environmentally friendly formula provides intense pigment colour that is rich in coverage and produces exceptional colour yield. As a water-based product, Permaset Aqua is low odour and after heat curing, prints exhibit excellent wash, rub and dry-clean resistance.
Once the ink is cured it is machine washable and can be ironed. Unlike plastisol ink water-based ink has a soft feel to it especially when printing on light coloured garments. When printing on darker coloured garments the ink will have more of a hand to it as a thicker layer of ink has to be laid down.

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6: E-Commerce

E-commerce provides an energy saving mainly due to the savings in energy associated with high street stores and consumer transport. This is off-set to a certain degree by the increased transport and packaging associated with home deliveries from a centralized depot. In terms of the life cycle of a T-shirt, E-commerce has been shown to provide a marginal energy benefit with regards to the life cycle burden of clothing.

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7: Post Consumer Use

Some of the largest environmental impacts happen when you take your T-shirt home. Of course, after you purchase it, you will wash and dry it many times. Hot water for washing and energy for drying are significant in creating the biggest environmental impact, however laundry detergents also create large quantities of waterborne effluents.

Some studies show that home washing and drying of a T-shirt can account for nearly 60% of the energy used throughout the T-shirt’s lifetime. This is primarily through energy-intensive hot-washes and drying cycles. If you were to wash your T-Shirt at a lower temperature it would reduce energy consumption by about 10 per cent for every 10°C reduction in washing temperature. Eliminating tumble drying (which accounts for 60 per cent of the use phase) and ironing, in combination with a lower washing temperature, has been calculated to lead to around 50 per cent reduction in total energy consumption of your T-Shirt.

You can therefore lessen the life cycle impact of your T shirt by line drying and washing it in cold water and by following these tips:
• Wash your clothes on a gentle, cool-to-warm cycle
• Hang clothes to dry when possible
• Buy eco-friendly detergents formulated to work in cold water
• Consider keeping your T-Shirt longer or shopping for second-hand ones to minimize the impacts of manufacturing new clothing
Alternatively, just by washing your T-Shirt half as often, the product’s overall energy consumption can be cut by almost 50 per cent.

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8: Recycling

The lifecycle of your T-shirt doesn’t need to end when you have finished with it, you could consider recycling it if you don’t do so already. It is estimated that more than 1 million tonnes of clothing are thrown away every year, with most of this coming from household sources. At least 50% of the clothing we throw away can be recycled, however, currently only around 25% of this waste is reused or recycled annually in the UK.
Recovery and recycling provide both environmental and economic benefits.  Textile recovery (that includes your T-Shirt) can:

• Reduce the need for landfill space. Some textiles present particular problems in landfill as synthetic (man-made fibres) products will not decompose, whilst woollen garments do decompose but produce methane, which contributes to global warming.
• Reduces pressure on virgin resources.
• Aids the balance of payments as we import fewer materials for our needs.
• Results in less pollution and energy savings, as fibres do not have to be transported from abroad.
The majority of post-consumer textiles are currently collected by charities like The Salvation Army, Scope, TRAID and Oxfam.  Some charities, for example Oxfam and The Salvation Army, sort collected material selling it on to merchants in the appropriate sectors.
At present the consumer has the option of putting textiles in 'clothes banks', taking them to charity shops or having them picked up for a jumble sale. Some, like Scope, for example, run a national door-to-door textile collection service.  There are about 3,000 textile banks nationwide, but clothes banks are only operating at about 25% capacity.

These clothes are given to the homeless, sold in charity shops or sold in developing countries in Africa, the Indian sub-continent and parts of Eastern Europe. Nearly 70% of items put into clothing banks are reused as clothes, and any un-wearable items are sold to merchants to be recycled and used as factory wiping cloths.

What You Can Do:

• Take your used T-Shirt to a textile bank. Contact the recycling officer in your local authority if there are no banks in your area and ask why; they may collect textiles through other means. Alternatively you can take your T-Shirt and other clothing to a local charity shop.
• Give old clothes/shoes/curtains/handbags etc. to jumble sales.  Remember to tie shoes together: part of the 6% of textiles which is wastage for merchants are single shoes.
Research shows that taking into account extraction of resources, manufacture of materials, electricity generation, clothing collection, processing and distribution and final disposal of wastes it was demonstrated that for every kilogram of new cotton displaced by second hand clothing approximately 65 kWh is saved, therefore, the reuse and recycling of donated clothing results in a reduction in the environmental burden compared to purchasing new clothing made from new materials.

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9: Recycled/Reclaimed Cotton

Although the majority of textile waste originates from household sources, waste textiles also arise during yarn and fabric manufacture, garment-making processes and from the retail industry.  These are termed post-industrial waste, as opposed to the post-consumer waste which goes to jumble sales and charity shops. This waste usually ends up in landfill, however post-consumer and post-industrial waste can provide a vast potential for recovery and recycling.

Recycled cotton is a mix of all different grades of cotton, which gives the recycled cotton an irregular and washed out look and feel, often a look that most companies use chemicals to achieve.

Reclaiming fibre avoids many of the polluting and energy intensive processes needed to make textiles from virgin materials, including:

• Savings on energy consumption when processing, as items do not need to be re-dyed or scoured.
• Less effluent, as unlike raw wool, it does not have to be thoroughly washed using large volumes of water.
• Reduction of demand for dyes and fixing agents and the problems caused by their use and manufacture.
Reclaimed/recycled cotton can also be blended with recycled plastic bottles to make clothing and textiles. The waste is sorted, re-fiberized, and blended to make cotton in many different colours, eliminating the need for new cotton, dyes, and chemicals that are used. This process is both cheaper and more environmentally and socially responsible than harvesting, spinning, and dying new cotton.
Find out more about recycling by checking this guide for products available in the UK which contain recycled materials, at:

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