Is Your Greta Thunberg T-Shirt Contributing to Climate Change?

If Greta Thunberg acts like someone who has no time to lose, it’s because she doesn’t. Already, the world is feeling the effects of the climate crisis, which is raising sea levels, fueling extreme temperatures and increasing the frequency of flooding and drought. And so in the span of a year, the 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl has gone from “striking” from classes every Friday to demand stronger climate action from her government to shaming the United Nations General Assembly for its “betrayal” of young people.

Hailed as a 21st century Joan of Arc, a real-world Katniss Everdeen and “one of our planet’s greatest advocates,” the young activist has inspired worldwide youth walkouts and the largest climate protest in history. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and has appeared on the cover of Time. In May, Vice made a 30-minute documentary called Make the World Greta Again. Such has been the “Greta effect,” in fact, that at times she almost transcends personhood, becoming a symbol, a movement, a zeitgeist and an attitude rolled into one. Or—occasionally—a T-shirt.

Type “Greta Thunberg T-shirt” into any search engine and you’ll instantly turn up thousands of results, many of them directed to user-submitted, print-on-demand merchandise sites such as Spreadshirt, where designers can set prices and receive a cut of the sales. (A Spreadshirt representative says the number of items tagged “Greta” on the marketplace have doubled between August and September.)

Shirts can vary in terms of effort, sophistication, or wit. Redbubble, for instance, has given Greta a David Bowie “Rebel Rebel” makeover; TeePublic has a shirt with an illustrated portrait of Greta looking thoughtful above her quote, “Asperger’s is my superpower.” If you’re a minimalist, Design by Humans will sell you a plain white T-shirt with the words “How Dare You”—another Greta bon mot—typed in a black capital letters. It costs $25, shipping not included.

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