How to Make Your T-Shirt Business Eco-Friendly

These days, sustainability is more important than ever to t-shirt businesses like yours. Not only do eco-friendly practices help prolong the life of the Earth, they also make your brand more attractive to today's eco-conscious, responsible consumers. Wondering how you can make your t-shirts more eco-friendly? Here's how:

Use an Eco-Friendly Fabric

The first step to an eco-friendly garment business is printing on t-shirts made from eco-friendly fabrics. The three most common eco-fabrics today are organic cotton, hemp and bamboo. Each one has its own pros and cons.

With certified organic cotton, for example, you can trust that your t-shirts have been produced without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilisers. However, the production of organic cotton uses over twice as much water as regular cotton. Hemp is a great choice because it uses half the amount of water cotton does, doesn't require pesticides, takes up little space and returns most of its nutrients back into the soil. However, it's usually processed into a fibre using environmentally unfriendly chemicals. As for bamboo, its use of natural Asian rainfall negates the need for irrigation. Unfortunately, like hemp, it's usually processed into fibre using harmful chemicals.

Ultimately, the fabric you use is up to you, but any one of these t-shirt choices is more eco-friendly than regular cotton.

Use Eco-Friendly Screen Printing

Once you have a t-shirt base that's easy on the environment, you need to make it your own using eco-friendly t-shirt screen printing. Unfortunately, there is currently no screen printing method on the market that's completely environmentally friendly, although garment businesses across the world are always working on alternatives. Instead, you'll want to choose a method that's more eco-friendly than the usual.

For short-run t-shirt printing, the most eco-friendly option is to use water-based ink. Water-based inks work great with light-coloured t-shirts, offering a very soft feeling print that's virtually seamless to the touch. They also produce very vibrant colours and have such great longevity that they outlast the life of the t-shirt. What makes them more eco-friendly is that they're non-toxic and don't contain chemicals that harm the ozone. However, they're not ideal for larger print runs, and you can't use them to print onto dark-coloured t-shirts.

If you are running a large-scale print or you're printing on black or dark garments, you'll need to use a plastisol-based ink. Unfortunately, these PVC-based inks are more harmful to the environment than the water-based alternative. If you need to use these inks, make sure you choose a screen printing company that takes steps to reduce their impact. One great step is to use a plastisol ink that's free from phthalates and formaldehyde. Your company should also have procedures in place to reduce ink waste, dispose of any unusable ink responsibly and dry the ink using renewable energy.