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green practices

Four Practical Ways to Run a Greener Shop

Rick Roth is president of Pawtucket, R.I.-based Mirror Image. In recent years, his business has taken home numerous Golden Image awards in various categories, as well as top honors in the industry media's various printing competitions.

Many articles on greener approaches to screen printing focus simply on screen cleaning. There is a much more detailed debate of the merits of each aspect of the system that can’t be covered here, but here are practical tips that do make a difference:

  • Get a good power washer. Water pressure is greener than using more chemicals of any kind.
  • Clean your screens right away so that haze doesn’t set in. Once it does it requires more chemicals to remove it.
  • Get a closed system, like a parts washer for cleaning squeegees and flood bars and buy some low VOC cleaner for it. Some of the greener cleaners that don’t work well for cleaning screens because they are expensive or greasy work great on cleaning your tools and it can be used over and over.
  • Figure out how to clean your screens with as few chemicals as possible. Work with good suppliers that will tell you the truth (beware of all the hype out there) and help you with best practices that are legal, safe for your workers, and as ecological as possible.

As with most things in screen printing, you can get better at your green practices just as you can get better at printing. Make some effort, talk to your peers, read up online and in the trade journals, listen to trusted vendors, and use some common sense. Making these changes in your business can make a difference both for the planet and for your bottom line.