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Published on May 31, 2022

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The People Who Make Your T-Shirts

Bowen Flowers owns a cotton farm in Mississippi where they can produce enough cotton to make nine million t-shirts in a year.

Bowen Flowers is a cotton farmer in Mississippi. He is a third generation cotton farmer. His farm is responsible for growing the cotton from seed and harvesting it with self driving tractors. The seeds that he uses were developed in a lab by seed engineers. They create seeds that produce cotton that is more resistant to pests and disease.

Factory workers in Bangladesh sewing T-shirts from out of cotton fabric. Their workstations are small and the factories and generally are poor working conditions.

Inside a T-shirt factory in Bangladesh two women are shown here working in a cramped space sewing the fabric into T-shirts. They work long hours for some of the lowest wages in the world. Most of the factory workers come from extreme poverty with little food and money, so the factory provides an opportunity for them to work. Especially for women who are not valued in their country.

Captain Ernesto Alas is a container ship captain that transports the the t-shirts all over the world.

Ship captains, like Captain Ernesto Alas, transport the raw cotton from the United States to countries like Indonesia where it is spun into yarn and woven into fabric by machines. They also transport the unfinished t-shirts in large shipping containers back to the United States or other parts of the world.

Garment factory workers in Columbia sewing T-shirts.

T-shirts are also products in garment factories in Columbia where workers have the same job as the workers in Bangladesh. However, Columbia is a more advanced economy, and the workers are paid four times more than the workers in Bangladesh. They work fewer hours and in better conditions too.

Jasmine is a garment factory worker in Bangladesh. She lives in shared housing with no running water.

The role of a T-shirt in Bangladesh is very different than the role it has in Columbia. The factory workers in Bangladesh come from extremely poor villages. Like Jasmine, they live in shared housing with no running water and suffer from a lack of food and gender discrimination. There are four million garment workers in Bangladesh.