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Sustainability

Made for big impact with a small footprint

We’re passionate about creating a more sustainable future—both in the custom apparel industry and the world as a whole.

We believe that shirts matter because the people who wear them matter.

A gray shirt draped over a sign in a wooded park.
We’re committed to delivering the best results possible for our business, our employees, our communities, and our planet—because we believe that looking your best today doesn’t have to come at the cost of the planet’s best tomorrow. 
Our commitment to sustainability goes beyond our decision to be kind to the planet. We believe in meeting each of the three pillars of sustainability—planet, people, and profit.

Planet

Our inks
Industry-standard plastisol inks are made with polyvinyl chloride (aka PVC)—which was dubbed the “Poison plastic” by Greenpeace.It goes without saying that plastisol is terrible for the planet. It’s also itchy, uncomfortable, and prone to cracking & peeling after just a few washes—but that’s another story. 
Our water based ink is completely free of PVC resin and is water-soluble—making it easier to clean, safer to print with, and better for the environment. As an added benefit, water based ink also soaks directly into your garment (rather than sitting on top of it), which means that it gets more comfortable with every wash.

An eco-friendly green shirt with a cute little turtle on the front, printed with water based inks

Our products
We are intentional about partnering with sustainable suppliers in order to provide you with a variety of ethically produced, sustainably made apparel from wholesale partners like Bella + Canvas®, Allmade®, RoyalApparel®, and Econscious®.‍

Browse our eco-friendly products

Our process
In addition to printing with eco-friendly water-based inks and providing sustainable garments, we also work hard to make our entire workflow more efficient in an effort to reduce our output. By utilizing new technologies (including two new Roq presses, a new dryer, and a new auto-reclaim machine that cuts down significantly on water usage), we are able to create a system that increases efficiency and quality simultaneously. 

A screen ready to be used to print a custom design with eco friendly inks

Within the realm of apparel printing, there are naturally some mis-prints, glitches, and bugs to be worked out. Traditionally, this creates a lot of waste. We are committed to finding creative ways to reuse or recycle garments—whether that be donating non-damaged garment samples to local charities or upcycling damaged garments (maybe even turning them into reusable shopping bags one day—stay tuned 😉 ). We still have a lot of room to grow here, but in the past year we’ve also made strides in our effort to reduce our plastic footprint. 

Beyond our internal production process, we actively encourage our team and our customers to practice earth-kindness both in the workplace and in their personal lives.

People

A holistic approach to sustainability involves valuing the people involved in every step of the process. From the people who knit together the blank garments we print on, to the people who do the printing, to the eventual shirt-wearer (you), people are the reason that we do what we do. We believe in treating our people well, paying them fairly, and building a workplace culture in which all involved genuinely care for each other. We offer multiple weekly opportunities for teams to get to know each other better, as well as monthly lunches in which we all come together to celebrate wins & understand losses (& eat tacos 😜) as a team. We're about celebrating wins in a big way—and shouting out members of the team on a weekly and monthly basis who are really living into our company’s Core Values

A shirt with a green plant design on the front.

Profit

We are pleased to work alongside good-doers (from individuals to organizations to small community groups) near & far as they seek to positively impact their communities—and are also passionate about making a difference in our own personal community. With that, every Real Thread employee is given one full paid day off to volunteer for a cause they care about.

Speaking of employees, sharing overall organizational profit with the whole team is a fundamental part of our business model. After six months with Real Thread, every employee is eligible to receive monthly profit share payouts based on tenure, as well as another payout at the end of the year.

We also offer a non-profit discount to 501(c)3 organizations—so be sure to talk to the team before placing your order! 

Have specific questions about us, what we do, or how we do it?
Feel free to reach out and someone from the team will be happy to chat with you!