Being a sustainable clothing brand with strong environmental and ethical values requires a lot of research, thought and care in selecting the garments, inks and processes which align with sustainable values. To screen print in a sustainable way, you’ll need to ensure that all elements of the process are responsibly sourced. This includes the fabric, material or garments that you’re printing onto, as well as eco-friendly for screen printing. Here’s a 2022 line-up of suppliers in Australia, where you can source quality components for your organic screen printing needs.
If you are not based in Australia, then please feel free to drop us a line anyway and we can try to connect you with a global supply partner in your country or region.
FINDING ORGANIC T-SHIRTS
There are many sources for buying quality organic fabrics and clothing these days; most are available online. For small print runs in Australia, for example, you might look to stores like Organic Tees and Etiko who provide organic cotton and vegan clothing, or The Organic Shirt for fair trade and organic blank T-shirts. If you’re doing larger print runs, suppliers such as OCC Apparel can provide certified organic cottons in a variety of colours and styles, like the T-shirts pictured below that are from the Earth Positive range, sustainably manufactured in Australia. Other good organic brands include Salvage and Certton which are also available from OCC Apparel. American Apparel and AS Colour also have organic offerings.
Blank Clothing Australia also offers a conscious collection of baby blanks and children’s T-shirts in organic cotton fabrics.
Many garment and fabric manufacturers have a range of environmental certifications. These may include Fair Wear Foundation, that ensures working conditions in the garment factories meet or exceed minimum acceptable standards for safety, dignity and fair pay and/or OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100 under which every component of the article, i.e. every thread, button and any other other accessory is tested for harmful substances to ensure that the finished article is harmless to humans and to the environment.
Another important certification is the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). This standard is recognised world wide, ensuring that environmentally and socially responsible practices govern the entire process of producing organic textiles, including growing, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, trading and distribution.
FINDING ORGANIC FABRIC FOR SCREEN PRINTING
For sourcing organic yardage and fabrics, there’s Wholesale Organic Cotton in Victoria who wholesale everything from fabrics to clothing and homewares which is all 100% GOTS Certified Organic Cotton, and Hemp WA who have the largest range of hemp fabrics, apparel and homewares in Australia, or you can search for fair trade, organic yardage or clothing to find materials that are ethically grown and processed.
You can look to PERMASET to find the best eco-friendly ink that’s water-based and designed for sustainable screen printing. The PERMASET PERMATONE range of textile printing inks was the first ink range from outside the UK to be granted Organic Approval by the Soil Association of the UK. This approval recognises that the inks meet the requirements of the Global Organic Textiles Standards (GOTS 6.0) for non-organic chemical inputs for use in organic textile processing. PERMATONE inks are 100% solvent free, producing vivid and vibrant prints that deliver soft handle and long lasting results on organic fabrics.
Another benefit is that organic PERMASET PERMATONE inks can be used to match specific colours. With the PERMATONE Ink set of 12 products, you can mix the inks to match over 1,869 colours. These inks are great for matching corporate and brand colours and offer complete flexibility and accuracy when you come to designing and printing your own organic range.
Conventional plastisol screen printing inks contain nasty chemicals when they are manufactured, used and disposed of. Most plastisol options are PVC (polyvinyl chloride) based and contain phthalates that are deemed a health risk by the Environment Protection Agency. By using water-based inks that are also organic, you remove the risks that are associated with the use of volatile organic solvents (VOCs), so they’re safer in production for the printer, for the wearer of the printed garment and ultimately, for the environment.