Sustainable Screen Printing with Organic Cotton Blanks
When sourcing for business partners and companies, many look to their own personal values and beliefs as a compass. In the apparel supply chain, both screen printing shops and those looking to incorporate more sustainable practices into apparel design seek ways to run an eco-friendly screen printing shops. It's important to know specific methods to ask for and incorporate into the screen printing process. Superior Ink, a printing and design service, has a helpful screen printing guide to help you get started. Everything from the ink to the disposal of chemicals should be leveraged toward eco-friendly and ethical practices.
Running an Eco-Friendly Screen Printing Business
While the choice to use an eco-friendly business is simple, the challenges screen printing businesses face are complicated. Everything from inks, adhesives, sourcing garments, waste, ordering, and packaging are all considerations when sourcing an eco-friendly screen printing business. Superior Ink, a printing and design service, switched to low-VOC inks and replaced older presses with new, high-efficiency presses as a way to reduce their environmental impact.
A type of ink to consider when selecting eco-friendly inks would be water-based ink. This option is bold, long-lasting, and easy to use; it will degrade at the pace of the cotton shirt used for the print because the base does not include plastic. The ink seeps into the garment and dyes the material, rather than sitting on top of the fabric. This creates a more consistent feel along with a more vintage look. Adding a mixing agent to the water-based ink allows for printing on darker garments. This is called water-based discharge, and it removes the dye within the image area of the garment and re-dyes it the color of the ink. Traditional plastisol inks are still PVC based and won’t break down as quickly as the pigment in water-based ink.
Algae Ink is another unique and environmentally-friendly printing ink. It is similar to traditional inks, except that the pigment component is completely bio-based and renewable. Superior Ink uses Algae Black™ as a black ink replacement. Algae by-product material is transformed into small, black pigments. This material is produced into a dry powder or liquid pigment.
While it’s inarguably better to use green chemicals, keep in mind that the eco-friendly nature of these chemicals is often reserved for the chemical alone, and proper waste management should still be used. While eco-friendly solvents or chemicals may be safe, once they dissolve a plastisol ink or emulsion, they become laden with non-safe materials. These should never go down the drain.
Filtration systems are environmentally-friendly units that collect emulsion solids and ink by-products before they go down the drain. A typical environmental issue in print shops is the management of wastewater. A lot of inks and chemicals are going down the drain daily, and they all have to go somewhere. A filtration system can help collect and dispose of particles rather than flushing them away, and eco-friendly additives and solutions help ensure that what goes down the drain won’t cause significant damage.
Choosing Eco-Friendly Wholesale Blanks
At this point in time, customers have certain expectations when searching for ethically sourced clothing. Ethical values should be carried out not only in the screen printing process but also with the wholesale blanks used. When operating a sustainable clothing business, it is necessary to source garments made with eco-friendly practices and be a part of the solution to unethical wholesale shirts. Here are things to look for when choosing an eco-friendly wholesale shirt supplier: transparency of supply chain, verified certifications, and high-quality production choices.
Sustainability Throughout the Supply Chain
Curating an entire supply chain dedicated to sustainability is imperative to providing ethically sourced garments. At Original Favorites, every step of our supply chain has been meticulously curated to include sustainable practices while ensuring the highest quality of garments. Our supply chain starts with ethical and quality farming practices. It carries out through the ginning process to provide a safe and fair workplace environment when manufacturing the end product. Without detailed supply chain processes, gaps can form where unethical practices can be used to increase efficiency in the fastest and cheapest way possible. This is why we pride ourselves on offering not only an entire supply chain rooted in sustainable practices but dialed out every detail to leave no gaps for unethical practices.
Proper Certifications and Trademarks
Providing the correct certifications and trademarks is the only way to ensure trust in a product’s sustainable quality. Examples of certificates and trademarks that are well known and well trusted include GOTS, OCS, IFOAM Family of Standards, OEKO-TEX Standard, and Supima®. GOTS Organic Certification has quickly become one of the most recognized certifications when it comes to the organic production of clothing. It proves more than just the material’s ‘organic’ nature and enforces stricter guidelines that prevent any loopholes when branding oneself as organic. The OEKO TEX Standard is the world’s certification for textiles tested for harmful substances. This is the most recognized certification for making sure a garment does not have any chemicals that are harmful to the environment and or human health. Lastly, the Supima® trademark verifies that cotton was grown sustainably while still maintaining luxury class fibers. We provide the most trusted wholesale blank options possible by partnering with these certifications and trademarks for our customers.
Anyone can claim they are a sustainable company without having verification. Sadly, most customers don’t demand evidence to back company claims. A lack of visibility of supply chains can allow exploitative, unsafe working conditions and environmental damage to thrive while obscuring who has the responsibility and power to correct these issues. This is why providing detailed transparency is key when it comes to choosing the right sourcing partners.
The Softest Cotton for Screen Printing
Choosing high-quality blanks for screen printing is imperative if you want the best final screen printed product. Screen printing can be a tricky business; the goal is to achieve a long-lasting print while making it appear seamless with the garment. If your blank garment is of poor quality, there is not much you can do to produce a quality print. Our Supima® cotton tees make high-quality tees for screen printing because of the superior fabric composition. ELS (extra-long staple fiber) doesn’t break or pill as easily as short-staple cotton. The silky-smooth cotton surface allows for maximum ink adhesion and clarity. To shop our tees, apply for a wholesale application here or log into your account.