06 September 2011

Shopping - THREE

I asked Erin Cadigan of THREE to tell me her about her tee shirt company, and why she decided to keep it green.  Her response is thoughtful, and insightful :

A company's reason for being is important. It's something everyone should at least give some consideration to these days. As the industrial revolution has progressed from it's early days in the 1900's, the toll on our environment and our societies has grown exponentially. Just recently, historically speaking, has the world started to turn it's awareness in a real way towards these problems. With the 2005 tipping point of the "green" movement; shopping green, fair trade or organic have become a welcome house hold phrases. However many companies have also taken to slapping these words on items that maybe aren't what they proclaim to be. 
How can the conscious consumer be sure?

Luckily the internet has given us all the ability to check out company policies on line, search for transparency and easily access book and periodicals that help explain who is and isn't doing what. If that all seems a bit overwhelming, it can be and to make it even more confusing there really is no one perfect answer. Most products have some sort of trade off in affordability, human rights, sustainable materials and local vs. global. Yet the good news is since there is no one perfect answer, there is a lot of room for a consumer to do some good somewhere with the buying choices they make. It's also good to keep in mind the more we vote yes! to things like fair trade, unionized factories, recycled, organic and up-cycled materials and local artisanal products the more they become available and the lower prices will eventually drop (though they may never drop as low as from a company that mass produces on the backs of under paid over worked individuals all while blindly polluting the environment).

So how do you start to think about shopping consciously?
Here are a few good questions to ask yourself. Who are these people(company)? Why are they making their product? Do they have their company's sustainability commitment and social responsibility commitments clearly posted on their website or product? If they are not yet producing "greenly" is there another compelling component to what they sell (perhaps they are fair trade or donating to an important charity)?
 Having left a well paid design job to create an eco-friendly, socially conscious company from the ground up, I appreciate and look for the back story on a company. Lets talk tshirts. It’s important to support companies with the same values as yourself. There is a ton of mass produced, environmentally damaging t-shirts out there in the world. I’m not sure people even know how high the environmental impact of a standard t-shirt can be. There are many other considerations besides environment I take into account when looking at a company. The kind of screen print ink is almost as important as the fabric of the shirt and honestly a much more affordable move in the right direction for many small companies. Waterbase inks still have pigments but do not have the non-biodegradable medium that plastisol inks contain. (read my article on water base inks here) Many large companies use plastisol inks as they are easier to work with in a shop, however for the small studio printer waterbase inks have the extra added advantage of an easy non chemical clean up. I also look at where and by who a company’s t-shirts are made. The other major impact a standard tshirt has on the world is to the working conditions and pay of the people actually sewing the shirt. Luckily there are some unionized factories out there and more that are voluntarily policed by global human rights watch dog groups, so finding a socially responsible t-shirt is not as hard as it once was. It's good to consider when you see a price thats too good to be true (say $12 bucks for a cool designed graphic tshirt) what might be the end result at the starting line. In other words how much can the factory worker sewing that tshirt be making, really? Still many brands choose cost over people and go for the cheapest blank they can find. I think it’s worth my money to buy from a brand that chooses human rights over a few extra dollars. For me I also like to find a tshirt that has some creativity and positivity to it's graphic. What is will this product that I'll wear on my body bring to people who view it? Me personally I go for hand drawn work, beautiful art or a tshirt with a great message. Sometimes I'll just buy a super cool tshirt because the company has so many similar values to me that I want people to ask me about it so I can share the company with them.


THREE is a sustainable lifestyle brand based on the art of designer Erin Cadigan. I believe that art is a vehicle for knowledge and my hope is to educate and engage while providing a cool product. Every design is based on research I have done in mythology, spirituality, science and culture. My drawings are like me; a little punk, a little rocker, a bit of hippie and perhaps a bit disturbed.

THREE is located in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn, NY. Everything is hand drawn and hand printed by Erin on a table top set up in her basement studio. She uses only water based inks on eco-friendly tees made by socially responsible companies. Water based inks and table top printing allow for more slight variation per shirt. She likes this look, it's real, slightly retro and makes all items just a bit more unique.

All designs are in limited production. Most designs are seasonal. Some designs maybe printed for a full year but then will be retired.

All my thsirts come in re-useable unbleached cotton bags with washing instructions and a full explanation of the design. I spend hours researching the facts that my designs are based on. The bags are great for farmers markets as they are non-toxic and weigh next to nothing.

Shop Favorites

I love this print and own the shirt myself. The cut of Alternative Apparels "meegs" racerback is phenomenal. The shape looks great on all body types and can be sized up for a of the moment hipster vibe or sized down for a fitted classic look. The fabric is a blend containing both recycled poly and organic cotton. The print is a hand drawn image featuring the Kundalini serpent creating the eternity symbol with her lower body while she bursts forth from the thousand petaled lotus in the 7th chakra position into pure consciousness. The block typography underneath states "Consciousness is the New World Order".

This design is one of the most popular in my shop right now. Printed on an all organic , ring spun cotton V-neck, this style is bought frequently by both men and women. The inks used are silver swirl and glo white ( a very bright white) and of course are water base inks. The design wraps around the shirt from the front right bottom corner to the center of the back. This particular design contains one of the most recognizable Sacred Geometry designs, Metatrons Cube. While many people have heard of this, many people also have no idea who Metatron is. The rest of the design illustrates the story of Metatron.

Browse the shop and use code : BPSdeal for 10% off an entire order!


  1. Stopping by from dreamers and doers, and LOVE LOVE LOVE the cupcakes and cucumber theme! AMAZING. Anyhow great article and nice looking blog!

  2. Thanks for popping by Cindy!