With consumer awareness and the shift in consciousness toward sustainable fashion, companies in the apparel industry began to focus on making brands ethical. One that is gradually gaining momentum is apparel printing. Traditionally, apparel printing mainly uses inks and dyes on T-shirts. However, these are known to produce large volumes of chemical wastewater and consequently pollute drainage systems when disposed of.
In fact, this could have detrimental effects on the environment in the long term. However, this is the reason why sustainable apparel printing is presented as a greener way to print custom T-shirts and other garments. It aims to reduce the environmental impact of apparel printing by using non-toxic dyes and natural materials. In addition, it adheres to corporate social responsibility of ethical supply chain and anti-sweatshop labor standards.
To achieve sustainable apparel printing, here are some essential factors to consider.
1. Organic Fabrics
A key goal in sustainable fashion is to shift towards the use of natural and organic materials and fabrics when making clothing. This includes the use of recyclable fabrics and has minimal impact on the environment. In addition, assessed fabrics must have minimal or no effect on agriculture, soil, natural habitats, greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution and microplastics.
As such, regulatory authorities around the world approve apparel brands that meet these criteria. For example, fair trade T-shirt printing is an international certification that recognizes and validates a clothing brand’s status as sustainable. Look for ‘organic’ and ‘Fairtrade’ labels on clothing to mark sustainable recognition.
The most popular organic fabrics that pass this sustainability test are organic cotton, hemp and bamboo. Organic cotton is beneficial because it is a durable material that can be grown and processed without harmful pesticides and chemicals. It also uses significantly less energy and water to manufacture and make clothing.
2. Recycled and Treated Water
The amount of water used and discarded to make clothing has been of great concern to environmentalists. This is why sustainable apparel printing has opted to recycle and treat water that would otherwise have been wasted or may have contained harmful chemicals.
One of the solutions used to recycle and treat water in various industries, including fashion, is filtration technology. The systems work by removing unwanted substances from the water. These substances can be chemicals, dyes, colorants, dyes and contaminants, making the water too toxic to reuse. Once the contaminants are removed, the now clean water can be pumped for reuse.
This technology is still mostly available to large corporate companies that can afford it. Small sustainable companies use genuine ink and dyes extracted from the natural colors of vegetables and foods such as carrots, berries and coffee beans. This eliminates the need to dispose of harmful substances when recycling water for apparel printing.
Recycling wastewater for fashion also helps sustainability efforts because it reduces the demand for and use of fresh water. This is an advantage because fresh water is becoming a scarce resource.
3. Social responsibility
Sustainable fashion printing is forever changing the industry’s reputation for unethical labor practices. This means that every individual involved at all levels of production, from sourcing to manufacturing to printing, is treated fairly in accordance with garment workers’ rights. A good deal of consumer pressure over the years has led to the shift toward worker-centered, ethical fashion.
Ethical standards start with the supply chain and are transparent about where and how materials are grown and sourced. This ensures that farmers use equipment and treatments that meet safety standards. It also includes ensuring that no harmful chemicals are used to harm the health of workers.
In terms of manufacturing, sustainable apparel printing follows fair labor practices for manufacturers. These include providing safe and good quality working conditions, golden working hours and reasonable compensation. In addition, the supply chain is also monitored at all levels of management to prevent child labor and forced labor. This is especially important if the apparel printing is sourced from materials or jobs in another country.
Ethical fashion has become a hot topic among environmentalists and custom fashion fans alike. This is part of an effort to minimize the impact of apparel printing and fashion on the environment, particularly on water and labor.
The sustainable printing industry has shifted primarily to making clothing from organic fabrics that have less impact on agriculture and nature. In addition, recycling wastewater or using natural dyes that do not pollute water and are not recycled has become a top priority. Finally, improving labor standards and adhering to workers’ rights maintains a commitment to social responsibility. All these elements combined make sustainable printing greener and more ethical.