What an extraordinarily enjoyable whirlwind of a summer, with some days feeling like I was at the edge of the whirlwind, traveling swiftly, and some days in the center, when time stood still. I was fortunate enough to make it to three remarkable events this summer – the New England Women’s Herbal Conference, the International Herb Symposium, and the SCA’s Pennsic War – and I look forward to reporting back on each of them. First, though, I want to introduce you to the “Plant Weeds: The ’s’ makes it legal.” t-shirts that are now for sale here at Vaguely Bohemian.
Since I’m a person who tends to research things ad nauseum, this was quite a process. I researched different printers and methods of printing, different t-shirt manufacturers and materials, etc. I discovered that t-shirts are pretty interesting. I’d never given much thought to this basic garment, but the variations just within t-shirts are impressive.
I also learned that, even with an item as ubiquitous as t-shirts, the options are limited. In an ideal world, I’d be printing on gorgeously crafted locally-made t-shirts made out of locally-grown hemp. Slightly more realistically, I set out to find organic cotton or hemp t-shirts that were Union-made in the US, and that were also available in both the basic unisex fit and a nicely-styled and reasonably-sized women’s cut. My printers don’t have a source for a shirt like this, and my own research hasn’t been able to uncover one either. At first I found this frustrating, but ultimately I think it’s a sign of how important it is that consumers choose mindfully. The more we choose to buy organic, sustainable shirts made with good labor practices, the more those will be offered. My ideal t-shirt might not be on offer now, but so long as I choose the closest I can get, I’m encouraging the market to choose sustainable, ethical practices.
So what shirts did I end up with? I chose to use Aurum Organic blanks. These shirts are made abroad, but the company itself is based in Burlington, Vermont. Although Aurum Organic is owned by a larger manufacturer, this is as local as I can get for t-shirt blanks, and supporting a strong local economy is important to me. They’re also printed locally, by the brilliant people at Amalgamated Culture Works in Burlington. It has been an absolute pleasure working with Amalgamated Culture Works, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.
The t-shirts are soft, well-made, and styled beautifully. The colors are rich, and the women’s fit is perhaps the best fitting women’s t-shirt I’ve ever put on. For me, this isn’t the most important thing in the world, but I think that it’s not a bad thing for clothing to be both sustainable and flattering. I’m working on obtaining a size chart, but I’ve found that I take the same size in these that I take in most other brands, so I’d say they run true to size. This was also important to me. I tried on one national-brand t-shirt that ran at least a size and a half small in their women’s t-shirts, and I think that creates unrealistic expectations for women.
Most importantly, to me, the t-shirts are 100% organic. Why was this my priority? The Rodale Institute reports that cotton growers use 16% of the world’s pesticides and that cotton is one of the top four GMO crops in the world. (Whether or not you believe GMOs can be used for good, there are troubling issues around the patenting and corporate control over seeds.) Organic cotton is GMO-free and grown without the use of synthetic pesticides. Conventional methods of growing cotton aren’t good for the earth, the farm workers, or the consumer, so any cotton t-shirts I sourced absolutely had to be grown using organic methods.
While I was in the midst of all this research, it sometimes seemed like this would be a perpetually “in process” project, so it was pretty magical to send my design to Amalgamated Culture Works and, a few days later, pick up a box of crisply printed, gorgeous, real t-shirts that I could see and touch – and wear! I’m pretty chuffed, and I hope you like them, too. If you do, please consider placing an order and/or sharing a link to a VAGUELY BOHEMIAN shop: Witty weedy wares on the web: You’ll be supporting my own local microbusiness Vaguely Bohemian, as well as a local independent printer, and organic practices of growing fiber for clothing. Also, there are more designs and more options in the works, and your purchase will help make those a reality. Thank you for your time and consideration!