Slackin’ on Printing Costs – do it yourself sweatshop

I’ve done the math before and it never seems to add up that the typical cost of having t-shirts professionally printed justifies the amount of time put into making them and thus compensates people accordingly. Annie Leonard noted this process quite effectively (and with really cute animated characters) in her Story of Stuff video and tuned people in to the fact that we are working to shop and often times we completely overlook the how?, where? and why? behind what we purchase.
For a while now I’ve noticed that shopping and mass consumerism freaks me out and going to a shopping mall gives me borderline panic attacks as I can’t figure out what all the “shoppers” actually need and why everyone is standing in line to spend money when there is, last time I checked, still a recession going on. I am always hesitant to engage in many forms of material shopping unless I know exactly where the goods came from, especially with clothes, as they frequently fall victim to association with sweat shop labor and excessive materialism as millions of people purchase new clothes every season, sometimes even every month, all without any research into what their dollars are supporting.
That being said, I am happy to provide an alternative to big business if you do need to make a purchase as our amazing YogaSlackers sponsors prAna, ibex and Beckons Organics offer sustainable solutions providing functional gear that is made from sustainable materials – like recycled plastic, organic cotton and merino wool, all made in non sweatshop labor conditions. We are more than happy to promote for these guys as we evaluate and interview all of our sponsors heavily to make sure they live up to our standards of being eco-conscious, sustainable and functional in as many ways as possible. We can also attest to the fact that we work these garments HARD through yoga, slacklining, climbing and adventure racing proving that they hold up for years and stay functional despite more than typical use. (I have a pair of prAna pants that I have been wearing almost every week for the past 2 years and they are still my most favorite rock climbing pants and don’t even have holes in them).
So in response to students and fans around the world who either took a workshop with us or just love the name “YogaSlackers” we have decided to start a small scale, grassroots clothing line by hand printing our logos on garments from our sponsors thus making everything relatively limited edition. The line will involve eco-conscious garments that are all hand silk screened using our custom made screen that has 5 different logo options. We are still hoping to source out organic ink options (know of any?) minimizing the amount of toxic output from the printing process but in the meantime we can control the waste by using minimal ink as hand screening ensures that you can scrape off any leftovers back into a container to use later (typically leftover ink just gets washed down the drain).
In my first run using the screen to test print on some of my own garments I used only 5 tablespoons worth of ink for over 20 prints and I still had some leftover to store for next time. Choosing to print in the summer heat made it a fun test trying, literally, not to sweat on the garments but then I also enjoyed laying them out and watching as the sun naturally set the ink (you are supposed to either put garments in the dryer or iron them to make the ink bind). With this old fashioned method we are able to cut out another level of reliance on electricity and allow good ‘ol mother nature to take care of it while also preserving the stretch factor of the garment which is typically destroyed when it is put in the dryer.
Call me old school (and I will sincerely take it as a compliment) but I prefer this slow and time honored tradition of putting craftsmanship into what you make far more than yielding a massive profit from having sweatshops crank out thousands of shirts with our logo on it. The YogaSlackers may be a bit behind on the economic, profit making trend but we enjoy the journey of trying to be as sustainable as possible and that’s part of what keeps us slackin’ for a better world… even if it means that we have to put forth a little bit more of our own sweat, blood and sometimes tears in the process.
We hope to have the first editions of the YogaSlackers “Bling” line (hand printed with gold and silver ink) available at our Summer Camp Retreat in August. Please stay tuned!
Yogaslackers – Slacklining for a better world
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