Screen Printing - April/May 2018 - 24
These five printing businesses illustrate how sustainability initiatives that begin on a personal level often
end in a complete reimagining of the bottom line.
tS Designs exudes corporate social responsibility in its sustainable
practices, from installing a solar array on its roof [left] to producing
its own Cotton of the Carolinas t-shirt line and rehance system for
dyeing white blanks after they are printed to conserve ink.
wish I could do more." It's the first thing Scott
Schulte, Modernistic co-CEO, says when he talks about
his company's sustainability efforts, and the sentiment
perfectly captures the spirit of the following five printing
companies that are attempting to have a positive impact
on both the planet and its people. Sustainability is an
ongoing battle in many of the fields served by specialty
printing, especially in industries like fashion, the secondhighest polluter in the world. There are many ways to fight
for it, whether you choose a formal, rigorous certification
or you start with a recycling bin. Many times, sustainability is simply a matter of intent. It can be hard work,
but the consensus of these shop leaders seems to be that
it's worth it - both on and off the books. And as Envision
Tees' Tom Rauen puts it, "You can start small." You can
always do more.
TS DeSIgnS: gIve Up or Change
"It really boils down to January 1, 1994," says Eric Henry,
president of TS Designs (tsdesigns.com). That day, the
North American Free Trade Agreement was ratified and
things began to change for the Burlington, North Carolinabased T-shirt shop - along with countless other businesses,
large and small, that were impacted as brands moved manufacturing overseas. Within two years, TS Designs had laid
off 80 percent of its staff.
When such moments happen, you can do one of two
things: Give up, or change your way of thinking. Henry, of
course, chose the latter, and today TS Designs sports the
tagline "Printing T-shirts for good," with a roster of clients
like NPR, Organic Valley, and Dogfish Head Brewery. How
did they do it?
"I came to realize that there's more to a business than
the bottom line," says Henry. He transformed his business
mindset to consider what's now known as the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. The company completely reinvented its customer base, finding customers
who, according to Henry, "see a value beyond price."