Screen Printing - April/May 2018 - 26
Brett Bowden [pictured], founder of printed threads, teamed with ten partners to help launch Allmade, an apparel manufacturing initiative that supports
orphans in Haiti. Other sustainability initiatives include a recirculation system for cleaning squeegees [left] and an automatic screen reclaiming unit.
sorting waste, Yunker has gotten creative throughout its facility.
One huge area where companies can make a difference is packaging and shipping. Yunker has invested in a machine that makes
bubble wrap out of biodegradable materials as well as a box
maker that allows them to create shipping containers that are the
exact size needed for each item. As often as possible, they ship
using the UPS carbon neutral program, and they're also working
on obtaining an eco-responsible shipper certification via UPS.
As Seitz says, it's quite a commitment. But is it worth all the
effort? The Yunker team's answer is a resounding "yes." Beyond
the impact these efforts have on both people and the planet, it's
become a differentiator to Yunker's customers - fans - too. Seitz
says questions like "Are you sustainable?" and "Are you a green
company?" pop up on RFIs all the time, and even "Are you SGPcertified?" is becoming more and more common.
"That's a big deal," she says. "That's what makes us stand
out a little bit more by going that extra mile."
Printed threads: a Lesson in Feng shui
Growing up in Texas, Brett Bowden says he was never much
of a "recycle everything, be good to the environment" type of
guy. But a couple of years ago, the founder of Printed Threads
(printedthreads.com) embarked on a passion project that
would change the way he thought about sustainability - and
the way he ran his business.
Printed Threads began in 2010 in Bowden's garage, and
grew to a $3 million company in just a few short years. Bowden
staked his work on simply being himself. "If you try to be like
everybody else," he says, "you're going to get a lot of customers
you probably don't want to work with." And it worked. As their
slogan goes, the company prints for bands, brands, bars, and
churches - we're talking artists like Miranda Lambert, brands
like Toms shoes and Tumbleweed TexStyles, and more.
Over the years, Bowden became close friends with Ryan
Moor, CEO and founder of Ryonet. And when Moor was
approached by Kansas City printer Zac McCarthy at a tradeshow in 2016 about a project making T-shirts to support Haitian
orphans, he turned to Bowden. "We spent two hours talking
about what this project could be," Bowden says, "and he looks
at me and says, 'Will you do this with me?' I was like, 'Yeah. That
totally aligns with my why and what I want to do with my life.'"
Before long, Moor assembled a team of 10 founding part26
ners, including Ryonet, Printed Threads, and several other
printing operations, and Allmade was born. The goal of the
project is to break the cycle of poverty and child abandonment in Haiti, while reducing the fashion industry's impact on
the environment, by making a high-quality, fashionable T-shirt.
The shirts are made at a Global Orphan Project facility in Haiti
where workers are paid five times the going rate for similar
jobs in the area, and profits are put toward programs benefiting
local orphans. The triblend shirts are made with organic cotton,
modal (a lower-impact type of rayon), and recycled polyester
containing the equivalent of six plastic water bottles per shirt.
Though apparel decoration is often characterized as a niche
plagued with cutthroat pricing, Bowden sees a different future.
He compares the transformation he envisions for the T-shirt
industry to that of the coffee business: "When our parents grew
up drinking coffee, they paid about a nickel a cup for it. How
many people pay $5 for a cup of coffee today? It's not so far off
to say that we can change the T-shirt market." It's a fascinating
thought, at the very least. "Why are we competing with nickels
when we could be competing on true value?" he asks.
Back home at Printed Threads, Bowden says the Allmade
project made him realize how important it is to run a business
in an environmentally and employee-conscious way. It was
like feng shui, he says: They added LEDs, automated reclaiming, a recirculation system for cleaning squeegees, a recycling
dumpster, and more. They cut down on aerosols and started
working to educate customers on why they should buy more
sustainable garments. They did more research on local cost
of living and committed to paying employees more.
"We made a conscious effort to do everything we can to make
our employees' lives better," Bowden says, "and if that means
that at the end of the year, I take home a smaller paycheck, that's
fine, because I need to know that I did good for my community."
Modernistic: the desire to do More
Modernistic (modprint.com) is a Stillwater, Minnesota-based
P-O-P graphics and display provider that's been SGP-certified
since December 2009.
"We strive to get better every year at some sustainability
element," explains Scott Schulte, co-CEO. "SGP is a nice
formal way of keeping the goal out in front of you." And
with big-box clients like Best Buy, Target, Kohl's, and more,