What is Eco-Fashion? Eco-Fashion (also call Sustainable Fashion) is the production of clothing that incorporates positive environmental practices and social responsibility into all of its phases. Books On Shirts® Kids is proud to be a part of the growing Eco-Fashion movement.
All of our garments are made with organic cotton; the fabric is dyed with low-impact fabric dyes and water-based ink is used to print the artwork and text onto the garments.
What follows is a brief summary of these three aspects of production that make our product environmentally sound and safe.
Organic cotton is much healthier for people and for the environment than are conventionally grown and genetically modified cottons. Various kinds of pesticides and insecticides are used in growing non-organic cotton. Only ten percent of these pesticides and insecticides are actually applied to the cotton. Ninety percent is released into the air, the soil, the ground water and onto the agricultural workers, as contaminants.
In addition to these pesticides and insecticides, non-organic cotton is grown with large amounts of synthetic fertilizers that harm the environment. These fertilizers have damaged the environment to such an extent that it in some areas where non-organic cotton was intensively grown (Uzbekistan), the land has become a desert. Intensive non-organic cotton cultivation has also caused other areas to become completely salinated and non-productive. In the cultivation of organic cotton, the soils natural balance is maintained with crop rotation, so that it remains fertile indefinitely.
Low-impact fabric dyes that are applied to our fabrics are better for the environment and healthier for people than are conventionally dyed fabrics. Conventionally dyed fabrics use solvents that contain high levels of heavy metals & other volatile organic compounds. In addition to these solvents, even more potentially hazardous to one’s health are the compounds used to keep the dye bonded to the fabric. These chemical compounds cannot be washed out and as a result are absorbed through the skin of the user. The effects on health can be significant when high levels are accumulated, especially in children. Large volumes of these chemicals also pollute the water used in the dying process, and this polluted water eventually gets sourced back into our water systems, rivers, and even our own drinking water.
Low-impact dyes, or fiber reactive dyes, are a synthetic variety that bond directly to the fiber, eliminating the use of hazardous "finishing" agents. They are not organic, but they are eco-friendly. Low-impact dyes contain no heavy metals or toxins and are much more efficient than conventional dyes, using and wasting significantly less water. Books On Shirts® Kids utilizes only low-impact dyes.
Water Based Inks are the better alternative of the two types of inks predominantly used for printing images and text onto apparel: plastisol and water-based. There are a smattering of more obscure alternatives, such as soy and vegetable inks, but these are used sparingly, since they are difficult to use. Of the two most commonly used ink types, plastisol is the industry standard. It has been the dominant ink used in apparel printing and is generally considered the easiest and most versatile ink to use. Unfortunately, plastisol is also the least "green" option of all; its use accompanied by a variety of ecological drawbacks that sorely outweighs its practical advantages in the long run.
The same properties that make plastisol so durable and resistant on a t-shirt are also what make it so harmful to the environment. Toxic metals are added for opacity and color-fastness; solvents (petroleum based) that contain volatile organic compounds are added to expedite the curing process; and PVC (considered to be one of the most environmentally damaging of all plastics), is the primary component used to bind & thicken the ink & keep it from bleeding onto the shirt once printed. All in all, this process of printing has negative effects on the environment and people.
A much more eco-friendly and effective approach to apparel printing, one that we at Books On Shirts®Kids choose, is the use of water-based inks. Water--based inks do not contain any ozone depleting chemicals, volatile solvents, or heavy metals. Water, not petroleum-based or other VOC containing mixtures, is the main solvent, and as long as proper ventilation during printing and curing is maintained, the manufacturing and disposal process have a minimal impact on the environment. Furthermore, there is no loss of durability.
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILIY is an integral part of the eco-fashion movement. In addition to respecting and preserving the environment for future generations, the well-being of the workers who cultivate cotton and those who manufacture, dye, print, cut and sew is also paramount.
All of our garments are made in the U.S.A. Our suppliers and manufacturers are also located in the U.S.A. We support local industry and well-paying jobs for our country's workers and are strongly opposed to the exploitation to which so many apparel industry workers around the world are routinely subjected. We do not object to the importing of manufactured goods into the USA per se, particularly if environmental and labor standards are high. However, the United States imports such a large majority of its manufactured goods that this has undermined our collective economic well-being. Thus, we feel it is imperative to manufacture as much as possible domestically. The U.S.A. factory workers who manufacture our shirts work hard and earn between $80 and $120 per day. Compare this to the wages paid to apparel workers in Asia, which is often less than a dollar a day, and you will understand why our prices are higher than the prices of imported garments.