Welcome to the third and final instalment of our three part blog series on more ethically sourced and produced screen printed merchandise. Last week we looked at a few of our recommendations for specific ethical garments, and this week we are taking a look at the screen printing process, and steps that can be taken to ensure that this is as environmentally friendly as possible. Here’s a closer look at a few of the key things that can be done to ensure a more ethical screen printing process…
One of the main ways to ensure that the screen printing process is more environmentally friendly is to opt for water based inks rather than the more widely used plastisol inks, which are solvent based. Water based inks do not contain many of the harmful chemicals that plastisol inks contain, such as PVC or phthalates. Additionally, unlike plastisol inks, water based inks do not require the use of solvents when washing screens after printing – they can be cleaned with water, meaning that no harm is caused to any aquatic life.
There are a few different kinds of water based inks, though one of the most popular brands are Permaset inks, which are one of the most environmentally friendly. Permaset Aqua inks do not contain any of the o-zone depleting, toxic chemicals such as CFC or HCFC. They are also vegan, as they contain no animal derived products and are not tested on animals.
Because these water based inks don’t contain the harmful chemicals of solvent based inks, it also means it’s healthier for the printers using the inks, so that’s also pretty cool for us!
One of the main reasons that water based inks are more environmentally friendly is that you don’t require solvents to clean screens after use, however, there are various other products used day to day around the screen printing studio that can contain harmful chemicals.
One of the main products used in screen printing is adhesive, which is used to make the garments stick to the printing platen to keep them in place when printing designs of more than one colour. Generally, this adhesive spray contains toxic chemicals, however, there are also a few greener versions such as roll on water based adhesive that can be used in place of spray.
One of the top eco screen printing chemical brands is CPS – you can check out their site via the following link: http://www.cps.eu/. These guys provide a great range of safer, more sustainable screen printing cleaners and adhesives, and are committed to providing a printing process that is greener and more efficient for the industry.
A big part of making sure the screen printing process is as ethical as possible is the specific garments that are used. Opting for garments that are made from 100% organic cotton, recycled fibres, or bamboo fabrics makes for a much more environmentally friendly choice.
Garment colour can also be taken into account here – as all coloured fabrics (such as reds, blues, greens, blacks etc.) need to be dyed, they often require lots of water and non renewable energy resources. Opting instead for natural coloured organic garments is a good way to ensure that your new merch is definitely as environmentally produced as possible.
We also wrote about how to choose an ethical clothing brand in part one of our series on switching to ethically sourced and printed merchandise, you can check it out here for a closer look at the best brands to use for organic, recycled and bamboo garments: Organic Screen Printing 101: Choosing An Ethical Clothing Brand.
If you missed last week’s blog post on our recommended ethical garment models, you can find it here on the Interplanetary Print Syndicate blog: Organic T-shirt Printing 101: Garment Models.
If you are interested in opting for more ethical merchandise for your next project or event, please drop us a line at the following link and we would be glad to discuss your options: Organic T-shirt Printing Services.