09 September 2008

T-Shirt Energy Analysis

Have you ever wondered what the total energy consumption of a T-shirt was? I mean counting the production of the fiber (by farming or in a chemical plant), manufacture, distribution, retailing, ownership and disposal? Me neither.
But the Cotton Research and Development Corporation of the Australian government did, and they hired Queensland University of Technology Institute of Sustainable Resources researcher Francisco Javier Navarro to figure it out.

Wet T-Shirts Are Greener Than Dry

He discovered that 75% of all the carbon emissions associated with a T-shirt made, sold and worn in Australia came from washing and drying it over its lifetime. More than half the CO2 came from tumble drying alone. That means you could cut the carbon footprint of an Australian T-shirt in half by hanging it out to dry on the line rather than by using the clothes dryer.

So of all the energy embodied in a T-shirt, about one-quarter is from creating the fiber, making the fabric and manufacturing the shirt, one-quarter is from washing it and one-half is from drying it in a dryer.

I guess that's the opposite of "greenwashing".

(Original QUT press release.)

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