Cheap T-shirts are a staple of life. No matter where you go, you can almost always find someone wearing a tee. So interesting are T-shirts that, if they were living creatures, a bunch of biologists from Arizona State University could chart their life cycle.

Perhaps some of your cheap T-shirts have actually taken on a life of their own thanks to your scant washing schedule. They remain inanimate objects for the rest of us. But what would they look like if they really were alive? What would the life cycle of your standard cheap T-shirt be?

Check it out, courtesy of California-base 5 Dollar T-Shirts:

Years 1-2

A cheap T-shirt is born when it comes off the production line and gets slipped into its packaging. From there it is safely cocooned while it makes the journey from factory to retailer. The journey finally ends when someone buys it off the rack. That is when life truly begins.

In the early years, the shirt is just trying to get used to things. It is subject to all sorts of strange experiences, some of which are not all that enjoyable. The cheap T-shirt takes its first ride in the washing machine and dryer. It learns to cope with the bright sunshine. It gets rained on and left in the back seat of the car.

Years 3-4

Years 3 is when you start seeing the little tike grow up. Its owner no longer puts it on three or four times a week, but that’s okay. The growing T-shirt doesn’t need so much attention anymore. It is happy to explore a bit of independence in the dresser drawer, the closet, and the hamper.

By year 4, its age is starting to show. Maybe its colors have faded a bit and its lettering is worn. But the threads of the fabric are still strong and tight. It spends a lot of time being worn during the summer; not so much during the winter.

Years 5-7

The fifth through seventh years could be considered a T-shirt’s middle-age years. Now it is really starting to show wear-and-tear. Some of the threads are breaking down and there might be a small hole here and there. Its color has started to fade like so many human hairs turning white. And of course, there are wrinkles everywhere.

The closer it gets to year 7, the more likely age spots will start to appear. You will see a couple of spots of grease here and a few paint splatters there. Two or three dark brown rust spots aren’t out of the question either.

Years 8-9

Now in the twilight of life, the cheap T-shirt is no longer being worn as an article of clothing. Perhaps it’s a cleaning rag used to wipe down windows and countertops. Maybe it sits out in the garage and only gets used when its owner is working on the car. As one day passes into the next, the aging cheap T-shirt begins wondering if there is life after functional usability.

Year 10

Very few cheap T-shirts live long enough to see the end of year 10. Those that do are destined to live out their remaining years stuffed away in the bottom of the dresser or packed in a box that sits in the basement. Maybe they will be pulled out by one of the grandkids. For those that don’t survive, the landfill or recycling center is the final stop.

And now you know the life cycle of a typical cheap T-shirt. It is probably a good thing T-shirts aren’t living creatures.

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