Wisdom from a T-shirt Wrapper

I don’t expect to find wisdom in packaging, but a t-shirt from North Cascades National Park had a pleasant surprise: a vision for National Parks over the next century.

The NPS-managed store in Newhalem, Washington, isn’t huge, nor is its staff, which may be why the t-shirts are rolled inside four-inch-wide ribbons indicating the shirt’s size and sleeve length — the easier to store and clean up. I couldn’t resist an olive green XL, and I stowed it away while I continued the day’s exploration.

That night, back at home, I took a closer look at the ribbon. A 3x3-inch block on the wrap’s outer side shares the history of the park’s establishment, the result of a 76-year-old campaign. I then tore off the ribbon to find an eleven-point list of principles to ensure the future of our national parks. Here’s what it says:


  • Healthy Parks Healthy People: Outdoor recreation contributes to physical, mental, and social well being.
  • Eat Well and Prosper: Locally produced food tastes better, lasts longer, and supports community farmers and ranchers.
  • Enjoy the View: Protect clean clear air, our watershed, and spectacular scenery, now and for future generations.
  • Starry Starry Nights: Shield your lights, use light only when you need it. Use LED and lower-wattage bulbs.
  • Sustainable Fuels: Solar, wind, hydro, biomass, and hybrid help push technologies forward by learning more.
  • Go Green: Recycled goods, sustainably harvested materials, and less packaging mean less resources used.
  • Test Ride the Future: Electric cars and bicycles are opening a new frontier in transportation and are a great way to commute.
  • Live and Learn: History, culture, geology, biology, and memorial. Every park has an inspiring story to tell.
  • Value Added: National parks create jobs, strengthen local economies, and support historic preservation and environmental sustainability.
  • Parks for People: Recreational, educational, worked experiences. Volunteer and get involved.
  • Become a Member: Ask how you can become a member and supporter of your favorite parks.

Isn’t that fantastic? Surely there’s at least one of these suggestions you can implement today.

Thanks to the North Cascades Institute for their insightful use of package for the greater good.

— Brad

P.S.: North Cascades National Park is one of the least-visited national parks. This baffles me. If you love water imbued with the turquoise hue of glacial flour, get thee on a plane and head northwest! Thank me later.