April '23

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M A P R I L 2 0 2 3 • G R A P H I C S P R O 2 9 Another reason to become eco-friendly is that consumers seem to want to do business with companies that are pursu- ing environmentally friendly and sustain- able practices. e Global Sustainability Study 2021, which surveyed 10,000 people across 17 countries, showed that "sustainability is becoming increasingly important in con- sumers' purchasing decisions, especially as consumers see themselves, along with for-profit companies, as the primary cat- alysts for change." Sustainability is par- ticularly important to younger consum- ers, with 32 percent of Millennials mak- ing changes in their behavior to be more sustainable. "Millennials and Gen Z are becoming a force to be reckoned with as they continue to represent a larger share of the consumer demographic. Companies that don't have sustainability as part of their core value proposition need to act now to protect against future reputational impacts and loss of market share," says Shikha Jain, author of the study, speaking to Business Wire. A study cited in The Business News Daily in January of 2023 cited further statistics that point toward an increase in global consumer awareness of and con- cern about environmental friendliness. Over the past five years, the study reports, there has been a 71 percent rise in online searches for sustainable goods globally. According to a survey from McKinsey & Co., 66 percent of all respondents and 75 percent of Millennial respon- dents said that they consider sustainabil- ity when making a purchase. e report also showed a trend toward consumers being more willing to buy environmen- tally friendly products, even if they cost a bit more. Building awareness While studies are showing that con- sumer awareness and willingness to buy environmentally friendly products have increased, that doesn't mean all of your customers are on that bandwagon. "e hardest part by far has been encour- aging customers to go green or convincing them of the benefits. I get it; we are all crea- tures of habit, and if we've been printing plastisol all these decades with no linked causes of death behind it, why should we change up now? But the reality is what's the go-to is not necessarily what is good for you. Everything has a cause and effect," says Sha'ron Pryor, founder and CEO of SquirrelPrintz, an eco-friendly embroi- dery and print company. "To go green, companies are going to have to be willing and able to take on the burden of educat- ing customers about why that matters and what the benefits of doing so are." Another issue to be considered when taking into account the potentially higher cost of environmentally friendly printing or garment decoration is the fact that communities that are lower on the income scale may simply not be able to pay more. It's not that they don't care; it may simply be that funds aren't available. e good news is that companies fac- ing higher price points or higher costs in their efforts to go green can benefit from programs to support companies that are making efforts in this area. As Pryor has found, "For me, some of the business advantages of being eco-friendly are that it has opened up a wider opportunity to pur- sue grants and funding because people are actively looking to invest in ventures that are going green. Also, being eco-friendly forces you to be conscious about how you use things and not be as wasteful. e effort you make to reduce business waste will have a knock-down effect on costs. ere are grants from federal government sources, state government sources, and private organizations that are designed to encourage and support businesses that are making an effort to become more environ- mentally friendly and sustainable." As with any sort of business strategy, going eco-friendly has costs and bene- fits. Creating a sustainable and positive environmental footprint is good for the environment and may have benefits when it comes to attracting customers. At the same time, while many potential custom- ers may pay lip service to the idea of want- ing more environmentally friendly deco- rated products, your company may have to do some educating to get them on board with price points that are a bit higher. ere's also the issue of standards of accountability and labels that can be vague. How much is enough? What's the threshold for being able to call yourself an environmentally friendly or sustain- able company? And what can you charge to cover the increased costs you may have to pay for the products that will allow you to keep an environmentally friendly designation? In the end, the decision to pursue being an eco-friendly business is one each busi- ness owner must make for themselves. Particularly in communities that are lower income or facing economic challenges, this may be a tougher decision to make, but in these communities, it may be an even more vital decision. Pryor explains her decision to make SquirrelPrintz an environmentally friendly company: "Part of my reasoning stems from being raised in a low-income community where we had diminished access to outdoor recreation, high air pollution, and greater risk for dis- eases; I just didn't want to add to that — not only as a business owner but also as a member of the community." GP Next Level Apparel's LEED Certified HQ building in Los Angeles. Gildan Recognized for Sustainability Efforts Kornit Digital Releases Second-Annual Impact Report Next Level Apparel Requires 100% U.S. Cotton

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