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ETD 82: A. You buy a new T-Shirt and a Grizzly Bear dies? What's up with that? What's the connection?
May 28, 2013 at 6:24pm


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Adilah M
June 04, 2013 at 11:10pm

Adilah explained to how when you buy a T-shirt you support farming with herbicides and pesticides. These pesticides kill moths that migrate to the rocky mountains and feed Grizzly Bears before hibernation. I never knew that buying T-shirts had such devastating effects. I thought this discussion was very interesting. ----------------------------------- I explained to my mom how buying T-shirts kill grizzly bears. She thought this topic was very interesting. We both learned that it is important to think about the consequences of producing crops using chemicals. We also discussed other ethical issues surrounding Monsanto products. We both now wonder if buying t-shirts made from organic cotton is viable solution to this problem.

von Michalofski
June 05, 2013 at 9:40pm

The fact that what we do locally affects the globe really made me stop and think. I know that I would never buy GMOs - this confirms my feelings about them. -- I enjoyed telling my mom about this ETD. I discussed with her the idea that everything on this planet is interconnected, and used the cotton farms in the southern United States as my main example. I was able to connect the issues regarding grizzly bears back to the ETD that we did today about caribou. It was fun to see her reaction as I discussed the effects on both grizzly bears and caribou since she's an animal lover - it had quite an impact. Going over this ETD with my mom reinforced my learning... this is a very interesting topic to me.

Wendy Lundquist
June 09, 2013 at 9:06pm

It was interesting to hear another example of unexpected consequences...who would think that human activities in Arkansas would effect Grizzlies in Montana. Also interesting was to hear that such a fierce carnivore is effected by a change in the life cycle of a small butterfly. --------------------------------- I was able to reinforce the idea that all of North America's and the world's ecosystems are interconnected, and that every change we make to them has consequences, many of which are difficult to discover. We talked about how cotton is often considered to be a more eco-friendly fabric, however everything still has an environmental impact, including cotton. We also talked about our personal impacts on our local ecosystem.

Elizabeth O., Period 1
June 09, 2013 at 9:19pm

Elizabeth taught me about the relationship between cotton farming in the South and the decline of the grizzly bear population in the Rockies. Cotton farmers seeking to increase their yields have increasingly turned to using pesticides and herbicides. Through the use of these agents they eliminate other plants that compete with the cotton plants as well as insect pests. However one side effect of this is that it reduces the breeding and feeding grounds of a type of moth. This moth is migratory and moves from the southern regions of the country all the way up to the slopes of the Rocky Mountains. There the moths breed and pupate. The moth pupa then becomes an important protein food source for grizzly bears as they lay on fat in preparation for winter hibernation. However with a significantly reduced moth population, the grizzly bear is lacking an important food source. The bear population have been observed to be leaner and reduced in numbers. It is incredible to realize that a seemingly beneficial activity in on part of the country can have such a detrimental affect all the way across the continent. --------------------------- I taught my dad about the environmental costs of purchasing a new cotton t-shirt and the negative impact it has on the grizzly bear population. One thing he found to be very interesting was that something on one side of the country could potentially have an effect on something on the opposite side of the country. My dad and I both thought that it was interesting that what is considered a pest in one area is considered food in another area. It really just solidifies the importance of realizing the inter-dependency of species and the unintended consequences of our activities.

Kaz D.
June 11, 2013 at 9:20pm

I had no idea that bear populations in the Rocky's depended on moths migrating from the South. The lack of high energy moth larvae causes the bears not to have enough energy stored to maintain their winter cycle. There isn't enough larvae because a large portion of the moths in the South are killed off by insecticides. Cause and effect. ----------------- Teaching others, especially people I know,is a great feeling. For me, this was a learning experience in the ways that people respond to the various relevant connections that nature has to their everyday, thoughtless actions. Funnily enough, my mom specializes in selling clothing in an online "boutique," and it was fascinating to see how she reacted to the impact that she unwitting was having on grizzlies. A conservationist and a clothing sales-woman, what a combination.

Savannah Rogers
May 19, 2014 at 6:45pm

Savannah explained how the cotton farming in Arkansas impacts the Montana grizzly population by limiting the moth food supply that the grizzlies need. Savannah also explained the interdependency of different species on each other and how when one species is affected by farm chemicals, all animals that depend on that  species are also harmed. This reminds me of our own salmon population and how humans contribute to their disease and destruction.  Like the grizzlies, salmon depend on a stable balance within nature and human habits will destroy their population without change.

-----------I taught my mom about the ETD and led her through exactly what we talked about in class. I explained about the environmental cost that it takes to make one single "cheap" tee shirt. It was quite interesting to here her comments and her questions. One of the biggest ones was "How does the USA compete with other nations if we attempt to go organic and manufacture in a way that does not harm the environment as much if other countries do not?" and I was stumped by this, but at the same time realized it does not matter if we are the top country, I do not care, I care about our environment and our future.

MacKenzie Dress
June 03, 2014 at 5:15pm

As the Mom, I am sad to see that what we put on our crops to make them healthy has such a devastating outcome for something else.  I would like to see natural ways become affordable and education of such products be abundant.  Perhaps the lands between could be planted with some sort of filtering plants and or another bear food source could be planted in the mountains. Funded by the tee-shirts, farmers and pesticide companies.


It's interesting to see a little bit of her faith in 'humanity crumble' with her increasing knowledge of everything we as a population have messed up. The projects today, and now I'm telling her that her new Macy's shirt is helping kill off one of the most iconic animals of North America. She is understandably upset, but equally reluctant to do much about it. We already shop at Value Village. We donate our used clothes, we have a garage sale every year, and we are uncomfortably addicted to flea markets. She tells me that this is why I'm here, to help save the planet. Apparently, she doesn't realize that she's not dead yet, and she can help now...

Keaton J.
June 15, 2014 at 8:47pm

2. I learned that when you buy a t-shirt, it has an effect not only on the region related with production, but with other places too, such as the environment of the North West Grizzly Bears. The farmers use pesticides that kill off moths, thus, less migrate and their larvae is less abundant for the bears to feed off in preparation for the winter. This leaves them skinnier and hungrier than usual. Ways to lessen this impact would be to buy less and reuse more clothing, so that you are not contributing to this overall problem as much. Also, that everything is interconnected, so that one small detail, might affect three or four factors, that then can effect even more things in the ecosystem.


3. I taught them that if you buy a t-shirt, a grizzly bear is effected. I explained how the moths are being killed off, so when they migrate here, there is less larvae that that is a major source of the bears fat intake for the winter. I also talked about ways to prevent this negative impact on the world.


Jessica Houston
June 16, 2014 at 5:56pm

Parent: At first, I was very confused when she started the conversation about how "T-shirts kill grizzly bears". But then she explained the chain of events; t-shirts are made out of cotton, to farm cotton, farmers use pesticides, the pesticides kill moths down in the southern states, but then there's less moths that migrate to the Rocky Mountains, then there's less food for the bears in the spring, so they starve in the winter. 

Student: This one was pretty fun to talk to my mom about. It pretty much blew her mind that buying a t-shirt could create such a domino effect, especially since she absolutely loves to buy new clothes. So this was a helpful argument to convince her to start buying less, especially unnecessary stuff, or buy used clothes like at thrift shops. This conversation also made her worried about everything else humans do if just buying T-shirts can have this much of an effect.

Madison Boggan
May 18, 2015 at 5:25pm

Parent: I am curious about what other effects how cotton fields are farmed has on the ecosystem. I wonder about what other animals are affected by this issue. I felt convicted about the impact that clothing has on the environment.

Student: It was interesting teaching my mom about this connection because at first she was very confused and didn't believe me when I told her that there is one. I think once I explained to her that her this a cascade of impacts from the process of farming cotton it made sense to her but at the same time this is still a huge issue to wrestle with. We talked about buying clothing second hand and how the damage from making that shirt is already done so it might as well be used. We also talked about the impact that donating clothing to other countries has. We discussed how this is an awesome thing to do because it provides others with something they really need, however, it doesn't make up for the fact that Americans are hurting the environment and grizzlies because we do have an excessive amount of clothing.

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