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When you are wearing your green this St. Patrick's Day, consider going green beyond March 17th. The screen printing industry has taken some heat over the years for the chemicals, aerosols and waste involved in printing shirts. While it would be difficult to completely avoid waste, there are a few small changes you can make to reduce the impact.
Here are 3 simple steps you can take when purchasing supplies for your screen printing projects:
1: Reusing Materials
The true benefit and economy in making screen printed shirts, compared to iron-on vinyl shirts, is the ability to reuse the screen to make multiple shirts. Just lift the screen off your first shirt and immediately place it on your next shirt to print again. Repeat the process as many times as you need. I've been able to make over 75 prints with one screen and one piece of vinyl! To learn more about screen printing with vinyl, start here.
Using less vinyl in your crafting is a great way to go green while saving some green. Whether you are making shirts to sell or volunteered to make the family reunion shirts this year, reusing materials will cut your costs and give you a larger profit margin.
In addition to the vinyl, here are a few things you can reuse during your screen printing process:
- If you are screen printing using my vinyl method, you can reuse the transfer tape after sticking your vinyl to the screen.
- Reuse the ink! Scoop up any excess ink off your frame and squeegee when you are done and put it back in your ink jar.
2: Using Eco-Friendly T-Shirts
Making an eco-friendly choice when purchasing your t-shirt blanks is an easy way to go green, while adding value to your printed shirts. Allmade tri-blend t-shirts are made from organic cotton and polyester produced from recycled water bottles.
Choosing an eco-friendly blank over an economy brand t-shirt will add to your costs, but imagine telling your customers that each shirt is made from 6 recycled water bottles! Sharing the eco-story of your shirt blanks will add value to your printed products. Learn more about the Allmade story here.
Save 65% on your next Allmade blank order using promo code PSPT2020. Start shopping, no wholesale account needed!
3: Choosing Water-Based Inks
If you are new to screen printing, you may not realize how many choices you have when it comes to choosing a screen printing ink. One of the biggest decisions is whether to choose water-based inks or plastisol inks.
Why do I use Speedball water-based inks?
For one, they require less equipment which is important for newbie screen printers. Plastisol inks, which you will see many screen printing shops using, require a flash dryer or conveyor dryer to dry and cure the ink. Water-based inks allow you to get started screen printing at home without this equipment. Water-based inks air dry and can be cured with a household iron or a heat press.
Water-based inks are also less harmful on your plumbing and clean up with just water. Plastisol inks on the other hand contain plastics or PVC which are more damaging to the environment.
Whether you are just getting started at home or wanting to “go green” with your screen printing process, water-based inks are a great choice.
A few extra tips and ideas for going green:
- Use a spatula to scoop up your ink rather than disposable materials.
- Mix your inks in glass bowls and store in reusable containers.
- Clean your screens, squeegees and tools right away to extend the life of all of your materials.
- Use a liquid adhesive tack on your screen printing press rather than an aerosol.
- If you happen to mess up on a shirt, instead of throwing it away, save it to use as a rag.
Choose to GO GREEN this St. Patrick's Day and beyond. Every small step you take will make a difference. Share your eco-friendly screen printing tips in the comments below!