27 May

How Sustainable Are Custom-Printed Brands Like Printful and Printify?

Not all custom printed brands are created equal, and we rate most of the popular ones out there “We Avoid” or “Not Good Enough”. But luckily, there are more sustainable options if you need some consciously created custom items.

How sustainable are custom-printed brands?

Sustainable fashion is becoming increasingly popular. After learning how to avoid falling into greenwashing traps, it’s easy to find more sustainable options for t-shirts, hoodies, accessories, and more.

But what if you want to zhuzh things up and have something a little more unique?

Enter: custom-printed brands. Custom t-shirts are a great way to get a message across, whether you’re a small business looking for merch or an individual who wants to commemorate an event.

Unfortunately, not all custom printing companies are created equal. Let’s take a look at the most popular print on demand brands and how they’re impacting people, the planet, and animals. Keep reading to see how sustainable custom-printed brands are and discover more sustainable options.

Printful

Rated: Not Good Enough

Founded in 2013, Printful is a US-based brand that offers on-demand printing onto garments, including tees and hoodies. Sadly, we rate Printful house apparel brands "Not Good Enough". The brand uses few eco-friendly materials and we found no evidence Printful has worker empowerment initiatives such as collective bargaining or rights to make a complaint or that it ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain.

See the rating.

Printify

Rated: We Avoid

Another popular custom printing brand is Printify. The brand sells custom t-shirts, phone cases, and more with your designs printed on demand.

But Printify doesn’t provide sufficient relevant information about how it reduces its impact on people, the planet, and animals. As a result, we rate Printify “We Avoid”. You have a right to know how the products you buy affect the issues you care about.

See the rating.

Custom Ink

Rated: We Avoid

"We Avoid" Custom Ink, too: a US-based brand that creates custom t-shirts, apparel, and more.

Like Printify, this brand provides insufficient relevant information about how it reduces its impact on people, the planet, and animals. Transparency is crucial for a more sustainable fashion industry, so the brand is falling behind.

See the rating.

Zazzle

Rated: We Avoid

US marketplace Zazzle allows customers to create products with independent manufacturers. But the company also has its own apparel brand. Unfortunately, we rate Zazzle "We Avoid" overall. It scores "Very Poor" for both the planet and people due to insufficient relevant information and evidence about its environmental and social policies. As a shopper, you have the right to know how its production practices impact the environment. We also couldn't find whether Zazzle ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain.

See the rating.

Emulsion Printhouse

Rated: Not Good Enough

Emulsion Printhouse creates high-quality, custom apparel for all. It was founded on the idea that high-quality custom t-shirts and garment printing should be more accessible in the USA. We had a look at Emulsion Printhouse's house apparel brands, and following our methodology, we rated the brand "Not Good Enough" overall. Emulsion Printhouse uses few eco-friendly materials, and we found no evidence it has a Code of Conduct, investigates and reports on safety incidents, ensures payment of a living wage, or audits any of its supply chain.

See the rating.

Everpress

Rated: Good

Everpress is on a mission to design and support independent creatives online, which we love. It's making a start for both people and the planet, thanks to its inclusion of eco-friendly materials like Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) cotton and its Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production - WRAP or Fair Wear Foundation certified facilities. It also leaves animals out of the equation, which is good news for our vegan fashion lovers.

The brand still has work to do to reduce energy use and GHG emissions, as well as ensuring payment of a living wage across its supply chain, which is currently unclear.

See the rating.

Shop Everpress.

If you’re looking for an affordable, eco-friendly custom printing brand with worldwide shipping, Everpress is worth a look. But if you want to widen your horizons and have more options, then here are a few of our favourite ethical fashion brands that offer printing or customisation services.

‘Good’ and ‘Great’ fashion brands offering custom printing

The Common Good Company

Rated: Great

The Common Good Company produces clothing using recycled materials, proving that there is a better way to produce and a better way to consume. The Common Good Company’s t-shirts are the perfect blank canvas for individuals, businesses large and small, social enterprises, and not-for-profits looking for something unique.

See the rating.

Shop The Common Good Company.

Panamuna Project

Rated: Great

Panamuna Project puts the protection of the ocean at the heart of everything it does. They offer print on demand using 100% organic cotton, water-based inks, and printers running on solar power. Opting for a greener printing process never looked so easy.

See the rating.

Shop Panamuna Project.

Etiko

Rated: Great
person wearing blue and white ethical sneakers by Etiko

Whether you are a non-profit wanting t-shirts for an event, a business looking for an ethically-made gift, or a sports club wanting balls with your name on them, Etiko Merch can supply something that fits the bill. Etiko is an Australian designer of organic, eco-friendly, and fair trade clothing and shoes. The brand constantly sets the bar for upholding and campaigning for the human rights of people working in traditionally exploitative industry supply chains.

See the rating.

Shop Etiko.

The Good Tee

Rated: Great
two women of colour wearing ethically made fashion by The Good Tee

Canadian brand The Good Tee is on a mission to be a positive example of responsibly made basics for the whole family and strives to humanise the fashion industry. Get creative with the Good Tee’s natural DIY sustainable projects. From natural dye kits to natural fabric painting, the kits make the perfect stay-at-home project. The brand’s kits feature bright, natural herbs and sustainable materials to transform basic organic white t-shirts into sustainable works of art.

See the rating.

Shop The Good Tee.

Little Yellow Bird

Rated: Great
two women wearing blue and white striped tops under red overalls by ethical brand Little Yellow Bird

Little Yellow Bird is a uniform and consumer brand that makes fully circular natural fibre clothing with transparency from farm to factory. The brand provides high quality, organic, ethical items for you and your team and offers screenprinting, embroidery, or a digital print application.

See the rating.

Shop Little Yellow Bird.

Teemill

Rated: Great

Teemill is a platform that lets you build your own online store and sell t-shirt designs online. The brand rates “Great” overall, our highest score. All its products are vegan and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified, plus it ensures payment of a living wage in some of its supply chain.

See the rating.

Shop Teemill.

Joyya

Rated: Great

Joyya makes organic apparel that helps create good jobs in communities in Kolkata, India. The brand was founded by merging three companies that knew they would be better together. The New Zealand-based brand originally started in 2001 in Kolkata, India, with one ambitious goal: to spark opportunity where little is found until there is an end to the horrors of extreme poverty and human trafficking. The brand creates made-to-order blank t-shirts so you can get exactly what you need. Perfect for printing or to wear blank.

See the rating.

Shop Joyya.

Editor's note

Feature image via Unsplash, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands. We may earn a commission on sales with top-rated partners made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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