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Components of a “green” strategy

Graphics | May 1, 2008 | By:

So you want to be a green printer? One thing print shops should learn is that with “green,” it is not all or nothing, and not on or off.

Currently, there are no established criteria for a green printing business, so green is mostly what you make it. Little increments of green can add up, and every little bit makes a difference. Doing a little is better than doing nothing at all.

Here are some of the components that go into a “green” strategy:

  • Ink
  • Substrates
  • Process (analog vs. digital)
  • Print on demand (no waste, no storage)
  • Printing locally (reduced transportation charges)

Each of these areas can be further broken down, for example, into substrates. Certainly fabric is greener than vinyl, and certain fabrics are greener than other fabrics.

However, what print shops need to keep in mind is that in creating a business around sustainable business practices, the output must match the application requirements: Form follows function. It does no good to offer a customer a biodegradable banner if that banner is for outdoor use. Who wants a banner that will disappear in six weeks when the customer needs it to last six months outdoors?

Little increments add up to sustainability

Before sustainable, there is functional. There may be times when vinyl is a better choice because it will be used for a long-term outdoor application. Keeping in mind our “it’s not all or nothing” mantra; there are still aspects of the process that can be considered to be green. Digital printing is on demand, so there is no waste; you print only what you need. Perhaps the inks used will be of the new “bio” ink types.

Print shops need to educate their customers about their capabilities, and what they have that will best meet their customers’ needs today. Running a green business is not an “all or nothing” process.
This is the second in a series of articles focusing on digital printing of textiles and sustainability, one of the most discussed issues in our industry today.

The co-authors are Lynn Krinsky of Stella Color (, a digital print shop in Seattle, Wash., and Patti Williams of I.T. Strategies (, Hanover, Mass., a market research and consulting company focusing on digital printing.

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