Is Print on Demand More Sustainable?

Is Print on Demand More Sustainable

Is sustainable print on demand possible? It’s a fair question considering the growing urgency over the health of our planet. As awareness of the situation increases, more consumers are expecting companies to be as sustainable as possible. Businesses should be aware to help them cater to their customers’ needs.

The answer to the question is: It can be. Print on demand is much like so many other industries where sustainability isn’t inherent but can be kinder to the environment if they use the right practices.

This article will look at how print on how printing companies can achieve sustainable print on demand, and what you can do to do your part.

Ethical Print on Demand Practices

Decreasing Material Waste

Decreased Material Waste

The print on demand model allows ecommerce store owners to sell products without having to invest in inventory first. Not only does this make it more affordable for people to get involved with print on demand, but it also removes the risk of investing in stock they can’t sell.

Unsold stock will often be thrown away, potentially resulting in a considerable volume of waste material. However, when the ethical print on demand model is used, products are only printed when they have been ordered. This model means there’s no need for store owners to throw any product away, regardless of how much they sell.

Something else to consider is that eco friendly print on demand t-shirts are often personalized, which helps to add sentimental value. If a T-shirt or similar means a lot to somebody, then they are likely to keep it for longer, reducing the need for new garments.

Reduced Water Use

Reduced Water Use

Water needs to be cleaned and pumped to your faucets, all of which take energy. Many traditional printing methods use a lot of water, increasing our demands on natural resources. However, ethical print on demand typically uses technologies that use far less water, helping to make the process more sustainable.

For example, one brand known as Kornit makes machines that reduce water usage by an impressive 95%. This is also the brand that Printbest uses for printing.

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Less Storage Space Needed

Less Storage Space Needed

Depending on how many sales a business is making, it could become necessary for an ecommerce store owner to find storage space for their products. Unfortunately, storage space requires more power and other utilities that help to increase the demand for natural resources. Plus, of course, storage means additional overheads and other headaches for business owners.

However, the print on demand model means store owners don’t need to find a space to store inventory because the print partner sends orders directly to customers. This solution makes it easier for store owners to manage their business while also reducing how much power we use.

More Efficient Transportation

More Efficient Transportation

A print on demand partner will typically order T-shirts and other merchandise from the manufacturer. When an order is placed, the product is then sent directly to the customer.

This process means that print on demand helps to reduce the number of transportation journeys made by each product in many cases. This is because orders would otherwise be sent to the retailer instead of being sent to the customer, and retailers will then often send items out by post themselves.

Good Quality Products

Good Quality Products

Most ecommerce stores will use the best quality products they can. The print on demand model helps businesses afford quality by keeping prices low.

How is this beneficial to the environment? Well, good-quality products last longer, meaning it takes longer before they are thrown away and replaced. Ordering new clothes less often means lower demand for materials and using less power used to make products.

It’s not just the quality of the T-shirts and other items that help. Print on demand companies typically use the latest equipment that helps to ensure quality prints that don’t fade easily. People are less likely to throw away a T-shirt if the printed design is still in good condition.

Using Eco Inks

Using Eco Inks

Many inks will be made using chemicals that can pollute the environment, while the printing process can also be harmful. However, the push to become more sustainable has led to the production of eco inks that cause as little damage to the environment as possible. Eco inks cause less pollution when being made, while chemicals won’t be released during the printing process and afterwards.

Eco inks are often made using organic materials like plant material. With that in mind, eco inks become even more environmentally friendly if they are made using sustainable ingredients.

Using Sustainable Packaging

Using Sustainable Packaging

Even eco friendly print on demand t-shirts will need some packaging. Unfortunately, plastic packaging is still too prevalent, resulting in vast volumes of the non-biodegradable material being dumped in landfills, and even in our oceans.

However, more sustainable packaging can be achieved in several ways:

  • Bio-Degradable Materials

As mentioned, non-biodegradable materials can cause tremendous damage to the environment. They can release toxins, destroy habitats and, even worse, some plastics will still be around hundreds of years after they were first discarded.

The good news is that bio-degradable materials are available to help limit the damage packaging can cause. Such materials are typically made from vegetable materials or even fungi and are taken from sources that can quickly and easily be regrown.

  • Sustainable Materials

An example of sustainable packaging is card that has been made from materials that can be renewed. For instance, fast-growing trees can be cultivated and harvested when ready, with a new tree replanted to take their place. Every time sustainable materials are used, fewer materials are taken from natural habitats.

Another example of sustainable materials is those made from recycled materials, while you can also ensure your own packaging can be recycled.

  • Reusable Packaging

Reusable packaging can help to reduce the demand for new packaging products. For example, some brands have developed packaging that can be used as a bag, time and time again.

Not only are such designs more sustainable, but they can also help add value to your products.

  • Minimalistic Packaging Designs

Creating packaging that uses as little material as possible is another way to become more sustainable. When done right, minimalistic designs can be very creative and help make your product more appealing. Packaging that uses fewer materials will also cost you less.

The good news is that sustainable packaging doesn’t need to be expensive. Some alternatives cost about the same as traditional materials, while sustainable materials like cardstock are affordable and look great.

Sustainable Practices

Sustainable Practices

Those selling eco friendly print on demand t-shirts can also do their part by encouraging sustainable practices. Some examples of sustainable practices in print in demand include:

  • Less Power Usage

Printing typically requires electricity, and some printers can be very power-hungry. While we can’t avoid the need for power, it is at least possible to use power that causes less harm to the environment.

Printers can also contribute further by trying to minimize their power consumption as much as possible. Putting machines on standby when not being used can make a difference, along with switching off lights and other equipment when not being used.

  • Good Chemical Disposal

It can be very difficult to avoid the use of chemicals in printing. While it would be best to eliminate their use, we can at least limit the harm they cause in the meantime.

For example, ensuring chemicals are disposed of safely will help prevent causing further pollution to the environment.

  • Clean Motor Fuel

Products need transporting from one place to another; that much is unavoidable. But we can at least reduce the amount of harm transportation can cost. For example, electric vehicles will reduce pollution and lower how many pollutants we pump into the atmosphere.

Good For Business

Good For Business

While helping our planet is obviously a good cause, sustainability in print on demand doesn’t have to be entirely altruistic. For example, around 78% of people now make buying decisions according to whether or not the product is eco-friendly and comes in sustainable packaging. 

When using sustainable packaging and other practices that help the environment, it’s a good idea to make it clear on the packaging. For one thing, it will help to boost your sales and, for another, it will encourage people to recycle the packaging if possible.


Print on demand can be more sustainable provided you use the right practices. Thankfully, many aspects of the industry are inherently more sustainable because it automatically helps to reduce waste and helps us use other resources like power more efficiently.

Ecommerce store owners can also do their part by using sustainable packaging where possible. Fortunately, you can get great quality packaging that will help your products sell at affordable prices.

If you’re looking for a print on demand partner that offers a quality service while also helping you boost sustainability, contact the team at Printbest. In the meantime, you can browse our catalog to see the range of quality products we have available.

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Printbest™ is a print on demand company powered by SinaLite. We help entrepreneurs, artists, and small business owners sell printed merchandise more easily by printing and dropshipping it straight to their customers.