Monday, November 5, 2007

Green Printing for Dummies

We're looking into organic cotton t-shirts this week at the shop. We recently started offering recycled cotton totes as alternatives to plastic shopping bags in our store. This was another foray into screenprinting for us that led to quite an education in green options for printing. Apparently there is no best option for eco-friendly printing as most have their positives and negatives. This isn't a big surprise though as most green choices involve tradeoffs of some sort. A quick search on the web turns up lots of info, but no clear winner. Plastisol inks (plastic derivatives) are the most commonly used in printing and are easy to deal with for most printers. They don't really dry out like water based inks and last longer than the material they are printed on. The water based inks don't have the nasty chemicals, but they dry out and have to be cleaned out of the screens right after printing. This puts more ink in the waste stream and causes cleanup hassles involving more water use and energy. I thought I had a better shot with the latest plastisol inks that use acrylic softeners instead of pthalates and pvc. The problem is, they cost at least three times as much. This drives the clothing price up and makes mistakes that much more expensive. Hopefully, as the usage increases of these new eco-friendly inks the prices will go down. For now, the searching and experimenting continues...

2 comments:

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