From Mississippi to Bangladesh and Back: The Life Cycle of a T-shirt
NPR's "Planet Money" show has recently published a series of shows on the life cycle of a T-shirt. The first episode covers the source of the cotton, the second covers the manufacturing of the men's shirt in Bangladesh, and the third covers the manufacturing of the women's shirt in Columbia.
The show's hosts travel to each of the locations to interview those who make their shirts. The first and third episodes were quite good, but the second episode is perhaps the most relevant to current headlines. Called, "Love, Betrayal and the Planet Money T-shirt," the second episode covers the democratizing effect of the factory wages are having in Bangladesh in great detail. Though the hosts mention some of the child labor and worker abuse issues, they largely focus on the vast social changes that higher wages have effected on the women featured in the podcast. The women featured in the podcast seem to have greatly improved freedom, both financially and personally, able to live in a better village, eat better food, and even date outside their father's wishes. The episode is also an interesting contrast with the third one, where the Bangladeshi women's poor working conditions are put in stark contrast with the nicer ones in the Colombian factory.
The podcasts are short, about 20 minutes each, and provide an interesting look at the lifecycle of a T-shirt.
The series will continue next week, following the shirt's shipping journey to the U.S.