As runners, for every well-worn and cherished finisher’s t-shirt, your go-to for long training runs or hikes in the years since that memorable Sunday, there’s a cupboard-full of ill-fitting, polycotton race tops, freebies that have barely seen the light of day, destined for landfill.
For race organisers, the default is to offer a finisher’s t-shirt, often with a race to the bottom on quality and price. Race t-shirts, in particular those of low quality, are fast fashion at its most detrimental. Producing a single cotton t-shirt uses up the same amount of water a human would drink over 2.5 years, and creates 2kg of ECO2. Wicking tops are even worse. On top of this, the cheaper the t-shirt, the higher the probability of exploitation in the supply chain.
For race organisers there is no additional cost, they simply add a ‘tree not tee’ option in registration and commit to Trees not Tees the unit price they would have paid for the t-shirt by the number of participants who choose the tree option. For races where t-shirts are given at the end, organisers include a ‘tree’ logo on the race number to tell who should receive a t-shirt.
Each participant then receives an e-certificate from Trees not Tees with a photo of their tree, the tree type and what3words geolocation, so they can even pay it a visit!