Screen printing is one of the many ways in which one can customize and manufacture graphic clothing. But traditionally, a lot of screen printing is not necessarily done sustainably as it uses harsh chemicals which can negatively impact the people working and dealing with the task of screen printing. This is why one of the most important things that many companies involved in screen printing need are more sustainable as well as money-saving ways to continue screen printing.
Screen printing can be of various types and hence different methods for sustainability may apply to different types of fabric or technique. Some of the different types of screen printing are halftone screen printing, silk screen printing, spot color screen printing, etc. All these require different skill sets as well as equipment. But, there are some eco-friendly practices that one can follow to engage themselves in sustainable ways of screen printing while also saving money. They are:
Swap To A Reusable Scraper
A scraper is one of the most often used tools in screen printing. But, what a lot of manufacturers do is use single-use tools or scrapers for getting the desired result. Single-use scrapers may be used to print on a couple of t-shirts or a single batch of t-shirts or any other apparel at once and then thrown out. It only increases the amount of waste generated which eventually ends up in landfills and causes land, water, and air pollution based on how it is disposed of.
Instead, it is a better option to buy a reusable and long-lasting scraper that can be used to print on multiple batches of apparel and can be reused after a simple wash. It will highly reduce the amount of waste generated by such a manufacturing unit.
Use Water-Based Inks
Different types of ink may be used for printing. This includes plastisol-based ink and water-based ink. A lot of unsustainable businesses use plastisol inks to print on their apparel. But, it contains PVC as well as other phthalates which not only pollute the surroundings but also are discouraged by various organizations. When plastisol ink is used and washed down the drain, it also pollutes the water bodies.
Switching to water-based inks is a better option in terms of sustainability as it is free of any PVC and plasticizers but one should also be aware that it comes with its learning curve and investments. It is why businesses that are planning on switching to water-based inks for screen printing must do their research before doing so.
Print On Apparels Made Sustainably
Another way to practice sustainable ways while screen printing is to change the kind of apparel one print on. Sustainably made apparels are either made of organic materials and can also include clothes made from recycled clothing. Using recycled clothing for printing makes the whole process much more sustainable as it ensures that not only the ink is sustainable but the clothing is too. As recycled clothing is made by recycling cotton and polyester clothes, it also helps in saving the clothes from ending up in landfills ensuring that they do not cause more pollution. It also reduces the need for production of more new clothes which in itself can be unsustainable if done on a large scale without proper recycling.
Do Not Go For Heavily Chemical-Based Products
Although people may want to directly switch to water-based inks from plastisol inks for the sake of sustainability, it is not always a viable option for many businesses as it can lead to a high amount of difference in the production cost as well as requires a huge learning curve. This is why, if directly switching to water-based ink is not possible, businesses can instead go for some better options. These include inks with less chemical content. They can include plastisol inks that do not contain phthalates. As phthalates are not only bad for the environment but also for the people using them, it is better to switch to non-phthalate options for inks.
Besides this, there are also alternatives to using products made from industrial chemicals. These include products that are made from eco-friendly chemicals like citrus and soybean-based chemicals. But, it is important to do one’s research before making the switch since not all chemicals work in the same way.
In Case Of Misprints or Damage, Reuse The Apparel
As screen printing requires one to do manual labor, it is only expected that there can be some misprints or mistakes. There may also be times when the apparel might have come damaged by the manufacturer or might have gotten damaged during the process. Oftentimes, in such a case, manufacturers choose to throw away the damaged or ruined piece of clothing. But this only adds to the already existing amount of waste in the landfills, nor is it sustainable in terms of finances.
Instead, whenever apparel gets damaged or misprinted, it should be reused as a test or a swatch for future prints and paints. This allows the cloth to be reused without it having to go to waste.
In conclusion, adopting sustainable practices in screen printing is essential for both the environment and the financial well-being of businesses. By implementing strategies such as using reusable scrapers, switching to water-based inks, printing on sustainably made apparel, opting for products with fewer chemicals, and reusing damaged or misprinted apparel, companies can significantly reduce their ecological footprint while saving money.
These practices minimize waste generation, prevent pollution of water bodies, and promote the circular economy by repurposing materials. While transitioning to sustainable methods may require initial research and investments, the long-term benefits outweigh the challenges. By embracing eco-friendly screen printing, businesses not only contribute to a cleaner environment but also enhance their profitability by reducing production costs, optimizing resources, and aligning with the growing demand for sustainable products. Ultimately, it is a win-win solution for the manufacturers as well as consumers who care about sustainability.