Green Tips: Yesterday’s Shirt

This way to easy bicycle garb. Original image: KSTU.

This way to easy bicycle garb. Original image: KSTU.

By Shaun Daniel, Sustainability Resource Center

It’s the perennial bike commuting question: What to wear?

Unless you’re part of the S.C.S.S. (serious cyclist spandex set), for most people the concern with biking is how to dress for the weather, account for sweat, and arrive at one’s destination in work appropriate attire looking close to one’s best so as not to repeat the morning routine just completed at home.

While some may have access to a shower at work, that isn’t an option for the majority. So how do you balance the sweat with the suite, i.e. the office suite.

My solution: Yesterday’s shirt.

I like to ride at a decent clip when I bike commute. I work up a sweat, even in winter—even in winter in Minneapolis when I was living there. It struck me as profligate to perspire through a perfectly clean shirt that I would just have to wash again immediately. I felt bad for those v-necks not able to enjoy as much of the day as their crewneck cousins, and vice versa.

Yesterday's shirt... because you probably wouldn't make it to work or school this way. Original image of World Naked Bike Ride Day from Agence France Presse.

Yesterday’s shirt… because you probably wouldn’t make it to work or school this way. Original image: World Naked Bike Ride, AFP.

At some point in my Twin Cities bike commuting, it occurred to me I could just wear the same shirt from the day before, along with the proper outer layer(s) to deal with the weather. Once at work or school, I could freshen up a bit in the restroom, wash my face (even sometimes use the old shirt as a towel), and then change into a fresh, clean shirt and whatever else needed for work. At the end of the day, I would have the option to change back, but more often than not I would just ride home in the newer shirt/undershirt since it didn’t matter so much if I was sweaty at home. The next day I’d repeat the pattern.

It’s a simple tactic that works for me, since I generally wear a t-shirt or undershirt on any given day. For others, such as those who might frequently wear dresses, you may have to tailor the idea to your own clothing habits.

I’d love to hear what works for you.

This article is part of a series to focus on fun, practical tips for leading a more sustainable life. If you have any tips of your own to suggest, email them to

Shaun Daniel is a graduate student in Environmental Humanities and a graduate assistant in the Sustainability Resource Center.


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