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Sustainable Printing: Merchandise


Cardboard boxes with a recycle stamp on them.
Eco-friendly merchandise ready for shipping.

Image from Shutterstock


Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links which are free to you and may provide Viafique LLC with a small commission.


Even in a world where technology plays a pivotal role in advertising, print-based marketing is unavoidable. With the emergence of popularity in items such as swag, in some ways it has evolved to involve a larger range of mediums than before. If you are concerned about the environment, this may become overwhelming as this means you must also educate yourself about materials such as fibers. Luckily, there are options out there which will allow you to create environmentally conscious merchandise for your brand with no upfront costs.


Print-on-Demand


Print-on-demand is a process in which you find a supplier, create your product, and then submit the order as they come in. The company does not produce any items until the order is received. After the order is placed, they manufacture the item and often will ship directly to the customer. This process ensures there is no waste due to overproduction, so the process itself is much friendlier than traditional bulk ordering. However, if you want to be truly environmentally friendly, you also need to be aware of the production process and the materials used.


Most print-on-demand companies, such as Printful and Printify, offer some options for organic products and will hopefully continue to make strides in this development. Although their merchandise options are not fully composed of environmentally conscious items, they are reliable companies which are dependable in terms of creating quality products. If you want to create apparel for your brand, make sure you find options which do not include unrecycled polyester. Although cotton does require a lot of water in its production, it is biodegradable and compostable only if it does not contain any unnatural fibers such as polyester.


Fiber Considerations


The choice of fabric for merchandise can get complex when looking for eco-friendly choices. For example, bamboo is often thought to be a viable choice, but this is not actually always the case. If you would like to offer bamboo-based products to your customer, you need to ensure the bamboo was grown using a closed-loop system. Bamboo which is not produced in this way results in toxic waste which is also detrimental to workers. Visit the Sustainability Certification Guide (2024) by Apparel Entrepreneurship provides a comprehensive list of certifications which may assist with your merchandise decisions when evaluating which type of fabric to use.


If you do not have time to do thorough research on environmentally friendly options, please make sure that you at least ensure that your all-natural items do not contain fibers which will restrict them from being biodegradable. This is so important that it is better to choose a 100% cotton t-shirt which is not organic than one that is 97% organic cotton with 3% polyester. If you are looking for trendy options which require fabrics other than purely natural fibers, check-out NovaTomato. The polyester used in their items is created using recycled plastic and their commitment to sustainability is undeniable.


Research


A website worth checking out when making your decision about manufacturing is Good on You. Although their rating for some of the companies mentioned in this blog post did not receive a positive evaluation, their standards are incredible for their analysis. Their ratings are given based on transparency and methodologies with concern for people, planet, and animals. They also explain both positive and negative feedback which gives you the ability to reflect on which issues are most important to you and which concerns you can address as a company.


When running a business, ease of use and product availability are also extremely important. In the future, this element of business operations will surely define print-on-demand companies’ effectiveness. Good on You provides alternative suggestions to those listed in this post in their article titled How Sustainable Are Custom-Printed Brands Like Printful and Printify? Although Viafique LLC has yet to purchase any samples from their top-rated companies, the ones which seem most efficient to business owners due to the familiarity of process and product options would be The Common Good Company, Teemill, and Joyya.


Conclusion


It is important to remember that branding is not just about visual presentation. It is also about the values you hold as a company. Due to this, it is worth the effort to consider how your marketing materials are produced as the decision you make is not only the socially responsible thing to do, but it is also a reflection of your ideals as a company. Even if your focus is not on fashion itself, this is something that applies to all industries. Even small efforts are better than none, and hopefully this article provides you with a starting point for incorporating environmentally conscious efforts in your marketing while also providing you with information for continued growth. If you are an eco-friendly printing company, please reach out to Viafique with information about your company so that recommendations may be given to customers for their convenience.


 

Author

Rebecca A. Crecelius, MFA

CEO | Founder | Managing Member | Designer



Rebecca A. Crecelius, MFA is an artist, designer, and business owner. Her creative background is in fine art, and she has a Specialization in Graphic Design from CalArts. In addition, she has post-secondary education in business and certificates in HTML and CSS coding languages. After discovering a passion for logo design and brand development, she founded Viafique LLC. She looks forward to sharing her knowledge with aspiring business owners and enthusiastic entrepreneurs.



 

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