“Going Green” is a topic that has been gaining steam in recent years. As we become more aware of how our decisions affect the environment the need for eco-friendly options is becoming more and more important.
However, it can sometimes be overwhelming to figure out what steps to take in becoming more eco-friendly. Do you start by switching to recycled paper products? Do you jump right in and build your own wind mill? How exactly do you calculate how big your carbon footprint is and does it have any relation to your shoe size?
Here are a few examples of different areas where you can become more eco-friendly in your print shop.
Pick and choose which, if any, of these ideas you can implement. They’re here to help jumpstart the process and show how easy and practical it is to go a little greener.
(If you want to know how Blue Ridge Graphics goes “green” check out our Green Page on our website.)
The first place many screen printers will turn to when thinking about adding eco-friendly options is their t-shirts. I mean that’s what the business is usually all about, right?
More and more vendors are offering eco-friendly options in their t-shirt lines. From shirts that are 100% organic cotton, to fleece that have recycled polyester in them, to shirts that are made out of bamboo or hemp.
It’s true that these shirts can be more expensive than your basic cotton tee, but they are also often extremely soft and comfortable as well as eco-friendly.
For most screen printers it would be impossible to switch to only eco-friendly shirts, but when a customer requests shirts that are eco-friendly, remember that there are plenty of options and don’t forget to explain the added benefits of softness and comfort. Because everyone loves a comfy tee.
Another way to go green is through the inks you use. Water-based inks are one of the most popular choices when it comes to more sustainable inks.
Luckily for screen printers interested in using water-based inks they have become easier to use in recent years. They also have the added benefit of containing no PVC and since they are water-based they can be washed out with just water. (Though that doesn’t mean they should go down the drain; check with your state regulations and always make sure you have a proper way to dispose of the waste.)
Apart from the environmental benefit of water-based inks, they also look great on light colored t-shirts and have an incredibly soft hand since they dye the fabric, instead of coating it. This makes them extremely popular in the fashion industry, and they’re great for creating the vintage looks that are popular now.
Some screen printers are going a step further by unleashing their inner scientist and coming up with unique inks made out of organic material.
So, if chemistry was your favorite class in school you can start experimenting with those beets.
Switching to more eco-friendly cleaners is another good place to start becoming more eco-friendly. The cleanup process required in a screen printing shop often relies on harsh chemicals to get to the job done, and it requires hands-on work, since those screens won’t wash themselves.
Using green cleaners will reduce the amount of fumes you, or your screen washer, is breathing in, and it will mean you’re working with less hazardous materials which is a win for you and for the planet.
Furthermore, green cleaners are often only a few cents more expensive than their traditional counterparts. Many screen printing suppliers carry full lines of eco-friendly material from degreaser to dehazers.
Every Step Counts
Apart from these broad changes that can be enacted, never forget that the small things make a difference as well. Here’s a list of little things that can help you become more eco-friendly.
- Switch up what kind of pallet adhesive you’re using. There are multiple options when it comes to pallet adhesives. Our shop uses water-based adhesives, which we squirt onto the pallet from a bottle. This eliminates the over-spray problem of aerosol cans, and it eliminates the aerosol cans themselves. An added bonus is the fact that they can be reactivated by water, meaning you don’t have to apply the adhesive as much.
- Buy a bottle-less water cooler (like this one here). It eliminates the need for plastic jugs of water, and will save you money in the long run.
- Save electricity by turning off the lights. This one doesn’t require buying anything and saves money by reducing your electricity bill.
- Invest in a programmable thermostat for you air conditioning unite. Our shop thermostat is set to start at six in the morning, and is programmed to run at a higher temperature over the weekends, saving both energy and money.
These are just a few steps to help your shop become greener. Of course there are many other things that can be done. The sky’s the limit, and every step counts.
So, if all you do is switch to recycled paper products or whether you can switch to using solar panels, it all makes a difference and earns you a big hug from Mother Earth, or one of her activists.