April '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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4 4 P R I N T W E A R A P R I L 2 0 2 0 Inks and Chemicals: For screen printers, the amount of chemicals and inks involved in the decoration process can be staggering. Parties recommend that decorators shop around to see what their options are when it comes to their ink choices, as many manufacturers either offer phthalate-free options when it comes to plastisol inks, as well as water-based inks. Other chemicals in the process like emulsions are now available by some manufacturers in a less volatile form as well. Decorators can also revamp their auxiliary chemical lineup, too, like those used for cleaning the production area and breakroom with more green-friendly options. Something as simple as a green-friend- ly cleaning spray to tidy up a shop's common areas can help get a decorator on the path to a more sustainable, eco-conscious business. Energy: Shop equipment generally accounts for a large part of a decorator's energy bills, but sources contend that even with heavy machinery, there are other ways to cut energy usage. Upgrading lighting is typically the first step for most businesses as LED bulbs offer more efficiency. In some instances, they'll also help provide safety improvements, Shroba points out. Lighting improvements can come in the form of some inexpensive measures too. "I am a huge fan of natural lighting," says Hunt. "(It's) amazing how we lease big metal buildings and then have all the lights turned on all day to crank work out. Windows letting natural light in makes all the difference in the world for airflow, light, and energy usage." Shroba adds that shops can also invest in other electrical compo- nents. For smaller office areas, he says, programmable thermostats for HVAC systems help reduce energy usage, while more extensive production operations can employ Building Automation Systems for heavier equipment like compressors, building exhaust, and boil- ers. Shipping: When it comes to shipping goods to and from a shop, business owners can find ways to be green friendly on multiple fronts. Hunt suggests tracking down local or regional distributors when possible to cut down on how far blank garments and supplies must be shipped. He expands stating that, "This all does two things: helps your local economy and cuts down on fossil fuels and costs in delivery." For customer-facing shipping options, business owners can check with their preferred carriers on what kind of systems those compa- nies are implementing to conserve resources. Both UPS and FedEx now offer a detailed section on their websites related to environmen- tal responsibility and a central place to contact the company with questions on said policies. Supplies: For decorators, especially those in the T-shirt-printing game, supplies can make up a big part of a shop's waste. Sources suggest that shops look into a company that makes shipping car- tons and cases from recycled material like recycled paperboard and cardboard. Cutting down on a shop's literal paper trail from sales to produc- tion can also help reduce the day-to-day buildup of trash. Hunt says that business management software systems, especially those tailored explicitly for decoration businesses, "can have a shop be paperless and barcode scanning for inventory and orders moving through the pipe without all the paper being printed and scrapped." Instead, employees can use devices like tablets to maintain customer orders. While investing in things like software and electronics will be more

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