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Eco-friendly Screen Printing

If you are concerned about the environment that we all live in, then you may be interested in eco-friendly screen printing. There are a number of factors that concern people about screen printing's effects. The chemicals, the shirts, and the raw materials can all cause environmental issues. We’ll look at the issue and discuss solutions and options for making screen printing more eco-friendly. 

What Does it Mean to be Eco-Friendly?

Being eco-friendly is not environmentally harmful. It is reducing consumption and waste that causes hazards for the environment. Eco-friendly people reuse and recycle materials in an effort to leave materials available in the environment. It also means to maintain the environment without polluting it. 

Is Screen Printing Eco-Friendly?

The basic concept of screen printing would indicate that it is not eco-friendly. What typically happens with screen printing is that new garments are enhanced with unique prints to be sold for a profit. The method uses plastisol ink and cotton shirts to make develop a screen printed product. Just the fact that the shirts are new is an issue unto itself. The shirts aren’t reused or recycled. They are new. 

It takes a lot of resources to produce one cotton shirt. Some estimates state that it takes 2700 liters of water just to produce one plain cotton shirt. Which means that to create cotton shirts for the entire planet there is an enormous amount of water and agriculture used to grow crops to meet the ever increasing demand. It is said that cotton is one of the worst crops for the planet.

Plastisol ink has a base called polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and is made up of two ingredients, polyvinyl resin and a liquid plasticizer. Creating plastisol releases chemicals that are harmful to the environment. These chemicals are also potentially hazardous to health as well. Plastisol has an ingredient called phthalates that has been shown to be carcinogenic. These phthalates are also released into the atmosphere and harm the environment as well. Plastisol ink is highly harmful to the environment.

There are also chemicals that are used in cleaning up shop equipment as well. Not to mention water consumption and energy to run the machines as well. Every stage of plastisol screen printing is harmful to the environment. 

Is it Possible to be Eco-friendly as a Screen Printer?

While it would be difficult to become a completely eco-friendly screen printer, there are numerous actions that can be taken to be more eco-friendly as a screen printer. This will take an examination of each step in the screen printing process. 

The most sustainable shirt is one that you already own or thrifted. After that there are shirts on the market that are eco-friendly and sustainable. Shopping for a sustainable shirt is not difficult if you do a simple internet search. There are companies that have developed products that are eco-friendly and biodegradable. Peruse their products and choose a shirt that is perfect for your company to use.

Next consider the type of ink that you use. While plastisol may be environmentally harmful, water-based inks are not. They are made with water and naturally occurring substances for dying. These inks are much more friendly to the environment. However, they must be disposed of properly. If they are not disposed of properly then they can still cause environmental damage. 

It is possible to use paper packaging for transportation of goods as well. No plastic bags should be used. 

Switching from an automatic press to a manual screen printing press will help save electricity as well as benefit the environment. The one area that would be difficult to substitute would be a dryer for the shirts. If the inks are not cured then the ink could potentially run and damage the shirt. This is why you need the dryer. 

The Final Word on Eco-Friendly Screen Printing

Screen printing is hazardous to the natural environment. It causes resource issues and lots of waste. To create a more environmentally friendly planet screen printers have options. They can take steps towards becoming more eco-friendly. It will take a careful look at each individual step in their process and ask themselves “What effect does this have on the environment?, and Are there other alternatives that are more eco-friendly?” Once they do that they will be able to move forward towards their environmentally friendly goals.

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