Did you know that there’s such a thing as “material footprint”? It’s a measurement of how much material is consumed to make a certain product. And it turns out that the fashion industry is one of the most material-hungry sectors in the world.
We often think that clothing is a light burden on the environment compared to other consumer products, but the reality is that our clothes are some of the most resource-intensive items in our lives.
It takes over 700 gallons of water to grow and process enough cotton for just one t-shirt and jeans typically require over 10 times as much water as a pair of boxer shorts. Apparel is also one of the most traded commodities in the world – and that’s even before you consider all the packaging and fuel burned when we get our new threads delivered to our doorsteps!
One of the trends that has come out of this is the idea of print-on-demand clothing, an approach that cuts out any unnecessary transportation, manufacturing, and logistics steps while also providing consumers with exactly what they want. Let’s take a closer look!
The rise of print-on-demand in e-commerce
Over the last few years, sustainable print-on-demand platforms and dropshipping companies such as Printful, Apliiq, Prodigi, Print Natural, and Printify have been popping up like mushrooms after rain.
What these platforms do is simple. Instead of producing thousands of units at once, these companies only produce the exact number that has been ordered. It’s a leaner manufacturing process where each item is made to order rather than in bulk. You can even print your own designs!
Most of these platforms are proud to be sustainable—they carry Fairtrade and Fairwear labels, use vegan inks, organic cotton, and recycled materials, and include Source tabs so you know where your apparel comes from.
They also deliver to customers directly, reducing the amount of time clothes spend in transport and the number of trips that are needed to get them from distributors to stores.
What to look for in a print-on-demand shop
If you’re looking to cut down on your material footprint (yay, we’re happy for you!), the print-on-demand market has a great deal of potential for customers like you. But first, here are some of the things to keep in mind when looking for a print-on-demand shop:
- Eco-friendly shipping. Sure, the shop produces clothes in a sustainable way. But what about shipping? Make sure your clothes arrive at your doorstep through a carbon-negative shipping provider.
- Ethical labor. Does your favorite shop source its garments from factories with ethical labor practices? This is a great way to make sure your clothes aren’t being sewn by exploited workers.
- Transparency. All good sustainable fashion initiatives should be transparent about their processes—look for a shop that has a 100% traceability rate and has publicly accessible information about where they source their materials from.
- Quality. Just because something is sustainable doesn’t mean it can’t be of high quality. Make sure the print-on-demand company has invested in developing top-quality inks and ensuring that its production processes have been designed with quality in mind.
- Price. Of course, you should also look out for whether or not the print-on-demand services are sustainable AND affordable. Sustainable fashion can be pricier than usual fast fashion, but you don’t have to burn a hole in your pocket to have it!
Sustainable fashion is the future
Now that you know the pros of sustainable print-on-demand fashion, why not give it a go? For starters, check out some of the cool designs available now at indierepublik.com. We also plant a tree for every purchase. 🙂