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How to go about T-Shirt printing the eco-friendly way

Most people don’t usually think of T shirt printing as an especially eco-friendly process, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. What we wish to highlight in this article is that it is possible, and in fact very easy, to find T shirt printing companies that offer eco friendly T shirt printing options.

The textile and printing industry has come under the spotlight on more than one occasion in recent years as people have become more aware and concerned with where, how and by whom their printed garments are made. For most, the words ‘textile factory’ has become synonymous with child labour, toxic chemicals and poor working conditions. However, this is not the case for all companies operating within the textile industry. In fact, more and more companies are becoming aware of their impact on the environment and their corporate social responsibility and taking measures to rectify this. Although the price is often the most important factor when you’re getting your T Shirts printed, printing companies offering this service are now catching on to the fact that people are also looking for eco-friendly products and printing techniques that are of a higher quality.

There now exists a range of eco-friendly clothing and printing techniques on the market, such as organic cotton, bamboo, Tencel and water-based screen printing. And these are not limited solely to printed T Shirts; there are plenty of garments and accessories to print on, for example, organic tote bags, hoodies, baby clothes and promotional pens and notepads made from recycled paper.

Eco-Friendly T-Shirt Printing Options:

Printed Organic Cotton T-Shirts:

As implied by the name, T Shirts made from organic cotton are free from the use of pesticides, GMOs and carcinogens. By choosing to print onto an organic cotton T Shirts, you are also supporting small-scale farmers and their families and helping to reduce water pollution. In fact, the impact of water is 98% less when growing organic cotton as opposed to non-organic cotton, in turn creating an environment free from toxins and the illnesses that synthetic pesticides produce.

The great thing is, that not only are organic T Shirts better for the environment, they are also super soft, long-lasting and tend to keep their shape longer. Furthermore, the fabric is perfect for eco-T-Shirt printing as it is highly compatible with non-toxic water-based inks used in screen printing.

Printed Tencel T-Shirts:​

Tencel, also known as Lyocell, is a sustainable fabric which is regenerated from wood cellulose. It is a great option for eco-friendly T-Shirt printing for the fact that it is a renewable fibre and produced from eucalyptus trees produced entirely without the use of pesticides.

There is only one chemical used in the manufacturing of Tencel, amine oxide, a non-toxic solvent in a closed-loop processing, where 99% of the chemical is reused.

This fabric has many advantages: It is shrink resistant, durable and easy to care for. It is also an exceptionally strong fibre, both wet and dry, all making it an excellent fabric for an eco-friendly T-Shirt and garment printing.

Printed Bamboo T-Shirts:​

Bamboo has become an increasingly popular eco-friendly T-Shirt printing option due to its renewability. Not only does it grow incredibly fast, but it requires 1/3 the amount of water to grow with little to no use of pesticides or herbicides whereas non-organic cotton often requires a large number of pesticides to maintain growth.

The fabric produced is super-soft and comfortable and what’s best is it’s a thermodynamic, anti-microbial fabric which also blocks out UV rays. This makes it a great option for those wanting to create printed T Shirts for personalised sports and fitness wear.

Eco-Friendly T-Shirt Printing Techniques:

Water-based Screen Printing for T-Shirts

Plastisol is the more commonly used ink for screen printing onto textiles. However, it is not water-soluble and is made of PVC particles, meaning that it sits on top of the fabric rather than soaking into it. It is also a carcinogen and known to be hazardous to the environment and human beings.

Water-based screen printing, on the other hand, is not only a great eco-friendly printing technique, it also produces a softer, lighter, more appealing print as it doesn’t leave a plasticated texture. Furthermore, these water-based inks offer better colour rendition and durability.

They can be used to print onto non-textile items like stickers, stationery, and canvas, as well as garments such as T Shirts, polo’s, hoodies, sweatshirts and caps, tote bags, jackets, aprons and virtually any other garment that can be placed on a platen to be screen printed. What’s best is that you can combine water-based inks with organic cotton and see fantastic results on light coloured garments. There really is no reason not to choose water-based ink screen printing in your future printing project.

Finally, if you would like to achieve an all-over print effect on your T-Shirt and want to avoid using dye sublimation due to the use of harmful chemicals and polyester, there is a solution. Certain T-Shirt suppliers offer a bespoke printing service, thus allowing you to choose the fabric, the dye and the cut. Here’s how it works: they first dye the entire roll of eco-friendly fabric you’ve chosen with water-based inks and then screen print your design over the entire material to create an all-over print effect. They then cut and sew the fabric to produce the final garment of your choice. This is a great option for those who want to create an original, dynamic T-Shirt. However, this service is only available to those who wish to order in bulk, meaning that it is more suited to large companies looking to print personalised clothing, fashion clothing, promotional merchandise and personalised workwear.

So, there you have it, the complete guide to eco-friendly T-Shirt printing. As you can see, there are many great alternatives when it comes to choosing a printing technique and a product that won’t do any damage to the environment. Whether you opt for organic cotton, Tencel or Bamboo T Shirts you can rest assured that your product will be a quality one and one that helps promote a more sustainable textile industry, free of child labour, toxic chemicals and poor working conditions.

If you’re thinking about getting personalised t shirts printed for a charity fundraiser, sponsored run, hen do or for a fashion clothing line, make it an eco-friendly one.

Garment Printing, specialists in textile printing, offer all of the products listed above and work with responsible brands who comply to strict standards set by the Fair Wear Foundation and are Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified. Contact us now for a hassle-free quote!