Cotton, carbon, and pollution

Our business is centred on reusables -- moving away from single-use wrapping paper and Christmas crackers, to high-quality cotton reusables. That's not to say we think cotton gets off scott free when it comes to carbon and pollution. Far from it!
But, all the cotton we use, whether our own designs or from another supplier, is digitally printed rather than the older style screen printed like the cheap Christmas cotton supplied to big craft stores. In the image above, water pollution from Azo dyes, which account for 60 to 70 percent of all dyes in the industry, are responsible for setting high intensity hues, poppy reds in particular. But when broken down and metabolised, they are a known carcinogenic. Digital printing which we use, allows dye to settle in the fabric without the need for toxic fixing agents and massive water discharge.
FESPA is a global federation of 37 national associations for the screen printing, digital printing and textile printing community and according to them, digital textile printing has long proved to be much more sustainable than analogue printing techniques. "Its benefits range from a significant reduction in ink consumption and in water pollution to an increased efficiency of production processes and logistics, just to name a few. Cutting-edge digital textile printers make it possible to set up a greener and more environmentally-friendly textile printing production.
"Did you know that after the paper and oil industries, the textile industry ranks as the third largest water consuming sector in the world? And when it comes to water pollution, this industry gets the top score of all sectors, with no less than 20%. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, bearing in mind that coloured fabric is dyed, white fabric is bleached and printed textiles need to be steamed and dried to fix and then remove surplus ink. "When moving to digital textile printing – by investing in dye sublimation and in paper transfer technologies – printing companies immediately experience a significant decrease in water and energy usage. In comparison to a conventional six-colour printing process, a digital print process enables you to save at least 60% of water consumption. If all running metres of all printed textile worldwide shifted from conventional to digital print, we could save up to 760 billion litres of water, meaning enough water to fill up 300,000 Olympic swimming pools. And that’s not all. It would also save up to 800 million cubic metres of gas, and 1,000 GWh of electricity.
"Despite the rapid evolution of digital textile printing technologies, traditional analogue printing still dominates high-volume textile production. Despite its environmental issues, this is because it’s still considered the most cost-effective solution. However, in terms of both time and money, it doesn’t come without its fair share of drawbacks, namely the cost of screens or cylinders. And, once used, these screens and cylinders then require additional and costly storage. Also, preparing inks and fabrics can take many hours to complete, and that’s for both machines and human operators too. Negatively impacting productivity, these processes are hardly compatible with today’s textile and fashion industry, driven as it is by customer-focused personalisation and shrinking production runs."
So, we are pretty realistic about the downsides of our products. But, on balance, we believe the use of digital printing, combined with an intended life-long use of our product (not regularly discarded like fast fashion) makes our reusables better in the long run.