What’s Up With Disposable T-Shirts?

It’s, undoubtedly, one of the most aggravating things.  You buy a t-shirt that you love, wear it one time, and then have to toss it in the garbage bin.

I began to notice the disturbing phenomenon about four or five years ago when I realized that all of my t-shirts were systematically getting ruined. While it occurred to me that the problem might be my washer, I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to keep any t-shirt, I’d better launder it by hand, and so that’s what I began to do.

Much to my surprise, it didn’t make a difference, the little tiny holes began to appear and always in the same place – at the lower half of the shirt in the front.

Thinking that this was a problem unique to me, I was totally surprised to hear a friend of mine tell me that the same thing was happening to her t-shirts.

Actually, it wasn’t until today when I went to the mall, yet again, to buy more t-shirts, that I was told by the salesperson at one of my favorite sportswear shops, that this is a common problem which she has dealt with time and again.  In fact, she told me that many women came back with their purchases and expressed their great dissatisfaction when seeing that the t-shirt they bought for the equivalent of $20 only lasted one or two wearings.  She offered the suggestion that, perhaps, it was due to the pants’ zipper causing the tiny holes, but I assured her that I usually wear pants with an elastic waist, so, at least in my case, that couldn’t be the cause.

So it has occurred to me that there is a deliberate plot to get women to continuously purchase t-shirts on an almost weekly basis.  What’s really interesting is that it doesn’t seem to happen to my husband’s t-shirts nor have I heard of any men complaining that they, too, have had to buy one shirt after another.  Could it be that this is unique to only women’s t-shirts?  Or is there a faulty mechanism within the machines which mass produce women’s tees?

It’s a question worth exploring, except that I have no idea whom to ask.  When I mentioned this strange occurrence to my husband, he assumed it was only happening to my cheaper t-shirts, but I assured him it had happened to all of my designer t-shirts as well.  There was just no real explanation for why it was occurring or the specific location where it always happened.

However, I have come to the conclusion that products, in general, are being deliberately produced in an inferior way to how they’ve been manufactured in the past.

Ask yourself – when was the last time that your refrigerator or washer lasted 25 years?  In fact, when trying to replace my own washer which had lasted about a mere four years, I was told by the salesperson that four years is about average for a product to survive.  Most of us might find this shocking, but he assured me that household appliances are only now meant to last between 4-6 years.

It really makes you wonder, but if, in fact, the goal is to make shoddy merchandise in order to force you to purchase new ones within a few short years, then the whole thing makes sense.

Gone are the day when guarantees were good for 15-20 years.  Mattress companies which used to boast long-term use are now minimizing their warranties for about 5-7 years.  That’s about the time it takes for me just to get used to my bed, and I’ve already got to give it up for a new one?

When purchasing a house in 2004, I was dismayed to discover that there was only one air-conditioning unit in the living room and none upstairs.  After purchasing individual units, for the other rooms, most of which broke down, within ten years, the one living room unit, purchased in 1995, kept going strong.  When it finally broke down, we called a repair company which also sold new units.  Thinking that we would have to bite the bullet and make the costly purchase of a newer, large unit, the highly ethical repairman honestly recommended that we pay to repair it rather than shell out the thousands of shekels for a new unit.

Incredulously, I asked why – given the fact that the unit, by then, was already at least 20 years old.  His answer to me was, “they don’t make them like this anymore.”  He told me that these older units could keep going for yet another 20 years and that they were much more efficient than the newer units which, at best, might only last 6-8 years and wouldn’t even throw out as much cool air.  Naturally, we took his advice and repaired the old unit.  We went on to live in the house at least another 4-5 years, and, as he said, it was running like a champ!

It’s very sad to think that quality products are no longer being made and that most purchases last for a very limited time.  I long for the days of Maytag, General Electric, Whirlpool and Frigidaire, all appliances which I had and which lasted at least 15 years or more.

Maybe it’s a metaphor – the end of quality as we once knew it, but I still think that a t-shirt, whether $20 or $50, should last longer than one or two wearings.  But, at this point, I’ve learned not to get too attached to my tees, because they will inevitably be with me for a very brief period of time.

Someone has decided that women’s t-shirts are disposable and should be replaced with great frequency.  And so, until I find out who is at fault for this outrage, I guess I’ll be paying another visit to the mall next week, because I’m about to wear one of those tees I bought today which I predict will be in the trash sometime around Saturday morning.

If anyone has a solution, feel free to let the rest of us females know since it’s now been discovered that this is a common dilemma.  Women for quality tees – UNITE!!!


About the Author
A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.