Screen printed T-shirts have come a long way from the rainbow colored tie-dyed versions from the 1960s. If you're in the market for some screen printed T-shirts, you can now go eco-friendly by choosing shirts made of organic cotton, bamboo and hemp. The following is an overview of these three products.

Organic cotton

Organic cotton is grown without pesticides or fertilizers and from seeds or plant stock that has not been genetically modified. Organic farmers use crop rotation and other natural methods to keep the plants healthy.

Controlling Weeds and Pests

Instead of pesticides, organic farmers depend on good old fashioned methods like weeding to keep the cotton plants healthy. They also plant crops around the cotton to act as a buffer zone for insect pests. Using organic "pest enemies," such as ladybugs, also helps keep the insect population down.

Water Saver

Organic cotton uses less water than typical commercially grown crops, thanks largely to crop rotation. When crops are rotated, it gives the soil time to recover between seasons. The roots of the cotton plants don't have to grow as deep to gather enough nutrients. Most organic farmers also use rain water for irrigation, either as it comes from the sky or that's been collected in onsite cisterns.

Bamboo

Bamboo fabric is catching on in the fashion world because of its aesthetic qualities. It has a soft texture, is color fast and looks like clothing made from much more expensive material, such as silk. It also has the following in its favor:

Anti-Bacterial Product

Bamboo grows well without pesticides because it has a natural anti-bacterial agent, bamboo kun. The kun is found in every cell of the plant and is still viable after processing the plant into textiles. In a T-shirt, the bamboo kun naturally wards off bacteria and associated allergens, which is handy for those suffering from allergies.

The Breathability Factor

Breathable bamboo wicks moisture away from the skin, keeping the wearer cool and dry. Bamboo shirts also keep wearers warmer in the cooler months and are often worn under waterproof snow gear to help regulate body temperature. The breathability of bamboo, along with the anti-bacterial properties described above, helps minimize body odors associated with sweat.

Sustainable Material

Bamboo grows quickly, sometimes reaching the size of a full-grown tree in as little as 60 days. It's a member of the grass family, and like your lawn, needs regular trimming. Growers harvest the old growth and new shoots appear in the stubs. As long as the bamboo doesn't flower, this can go on almost indefinitely. In fact, bamboo is so prolific that in some parts of the country it's considered a pest. But for fabric producers, this rapid repetitive growth means they have an eco-friendly, sustainable resource.

Hemp

Up until the 1930s hemp was one of America's largest crops. It was primarily used to make rope and is still considered a superior product for that purpose. But, because it is related to the marijuana plant, the growing of industrial hemp was made illegal. The law does not prohibit the importation or use of industrial hemp. Much of the hemp used in the United States comes from Canada.

Benefits

Hemp, like bamboo, is part of the grass family. It is also fast growing, being ready for harvest in roughly 120 days after seeds are produced. Industrial hemp requires no pesticides and has moisture wicking properties similar to bamboo. Hemp also retains dye better than either organic cotton or bamboo.

In some cases, fabric makers will combine bamboo or hemp with organic cotton. Either way, the wearer ends up with a comfortable T-shirt with printed artwork that will last a long time.  

These are only a few options you will have to consider when getting printed shirts. You can click here for more info about the options offered by printing companies in your area. 

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