What is sustainability?
What does it have to do with slow fashion?
And how can I make sustainable choices as a consumer?
Twinki-Winki and Sustainability
HOW TWINKI-WINKI PRODUCTS GET MADE
• Made by hand:
Twinki-Winki boa scarves are hand-cut and sewn in Madrid, Spain, by yours truly. No two are exactly alike. And I only buy enough fabric to be able to make three or four scarves in each color combination. This way I don’t stock fabrics I don’t need.
I think of all my boa scarves as wearable art. Wearable, as in designed to be easy to care for. And art, as in made by hand in super limited quantities to bring you joy forever. This is slow fashion at its best - creating products by hand that are a pleasure to wear, easy to care for, and long-lasting.
• Made by POD (print-on-demand):
Did you know that your Twinki-Winki order is made just for you? Yep, Twinki-Winki uses POD (print-on-demand) to make its totes, tees, backpacks, prints, mugs, pillows, towels, blankets, and laptop cases.
It doesn’t get made until it gets ordered.
Twinki-Winki works with a POD order fulfillment company with facilities worldwide. So depending on where you are, your orders are printed and shipped from the facility that can do it most efficiently.
POD avoids overproduction and textile waste. Yay! That means no leftover stock is thrown into landfills. And that’s a big plus when it comes to sustainability.
ABOUT POD PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES AND PACKAGING
• DTG printing and BELLA+CANVAS:
Twinki-Winki cotton slogan tees are made by the eco-friendly BELLA+CANVAS t-shirt company who is a leader in sustainability. They use solar energy, limit water use, and recycle their waste by-products.
BELLA+CANVAS dyes and cuts all their fabrics in the US. Their dye machines are super efficient using seven times less water than the industry average. And the waste water they do generate goes to a state of the art water reclamation plant in Los Angeles.
The tees get their slogans using DTG printing (direct-to-garment). This means the designs are printed directly onto the garment and absorbed into the fabric. This happens with Kornit inkjet printers. These printers produce almost zero wastewater and use less energy. The biodegradable vegan NeoPigment inks made by Kornit are eco-friendly, CPSIA-compliant, non-toxic, non-hazardous, and soluble in water. They're free from heavy metals, formaldehyde, and Alkylphenol Ethoxylates (APE).
• Sublimation printing:
Twinki-Winki totes, backpacks, mugs, pillows, towels, blankets, and laptop cases use sublimation printing to get all pretty. This happens with Mimaki printers. These printers use inkjet technology with dye-sublimation inks and transfer paper. First, the design is printed on a sheet of paper infused with sublimation ink. Then heat activates the ink so that it seeps deep into the material (fabric or ceramic). This ensures a consistent and vibrant all-over print that covers the whole product.
After the sublimation printing process, Twinki-Winki mugs, towels, blankets, and laptop cases are ready to be shipped out to you. As for Twinki-Winki totes, backpacks, and pillows, the printed fabric must first get hand-cut and then sewn together.
• Cut & sew technique:
Twinki-Winki tote bags, backpacks, and pillows are finished with the cut & sew technique. This means that after the graphics have been printed onto the fabric with the sublimation printing process (see above), the cutting takes place. The shape of the product is precision-cut and hand-sewn with industrial sewing machines. This gives the product a durable construction.
• HDR ink-jet technology:
Twinki-Winki art prints use Epson UltraChrome water-based HDR ink-jet technology. These inks have a low environmental impact. And Epson recycles their ink cartridges.
Twinki-Winki totes, tees, backpacks, pillows, towels, blankets, and laptop cases are packaged by our POD order fulfillment company. Each item is packaged in its own polymer bag, which is then placed in a polymer mailer. The poly bags are are made of low-density polyethylene and are fully recyclable.
Twinki-Winki art prints and mugs are also packaged by our fulfillment partner. In this case, they use cardboard boxes. Art prints are rolled up and packaged in triangular boxes that avoid the use of plastic caps, and ensure safe delivery without any creases or damages. Each mug is packaged in its own tight-fitting box that keeps it secure in the center. Multiple mugs are combined in one cardboard box.
Understanding Sustainability and Slow Fashion
Being sustainable means taking steps to avoid the depletion of natural resources to maintain an ecological balance.
That said, we are usually talking about:
• Consuming less
• Polluting less
• Producing less waste
• Finding non-toxic substitutes for traditionally used chemicals
Companies are becoming more transparent and letting consumers know about how they are addressing sustainability. But it's not always easy to discern the greenwashing from the truth. And that’s because the truth is complicated.
To give you an example, it may seem like a cotton shirt is more sustainable than a polyester shirt. And yet a cotton shirt requires massive amounts of water to produce. It also requires pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers. In comparison, polyester requires very little water to produce. But polyester is a by-product of oil production. And oil is not a renewable source. So, now it may seem like viscose could be the better alternative. But the production of viscose is causing deforestation which threatens the existence of certain species.
Water waste, pollution, oil production, and deforestation are all pressing problems. It can get downright tricky to understand your choices.
But there’s something even more important than knowing what your choices are. It’s your attitude.
Here’s the deal:
Attitude is about buying less often and with more purpose. This is a big part of what slow fashion is all about. And that’s why we often talk about slow fashion when we talk about sustainability.
Slow fashion connects environmental awareness and responsibility with the pleasure of wearing beautiful, well-made, and lasting clothing.
For example, you can choose quality over quantity. Quality items will cost more at first, but they will last longer and fit better. And quality accessories like scarves can help you switch things up. Thinking of new ways to style your wardrobe breathes new life into what you already have. And learning how to care for your quality items will make them last even longer.
Choosing quality over quantity means less waste.
You can also choose to buy POD (print-on-demand) products which only get made once you order them. This too means less waste, because the brand you are buying from is not producing in large quantities. (Around 85% of all textiles produced by the fashion industry end up in landfills.)
Attitude Is Everything
In the end, your attitude informs all the choices you make.
When it comes to choosing a shirt, maybe the right choice for you is cotton. The fibers are breathable and feel better on your skin. Cotton is easy to care for and will last a long time. And when it does wear out, it’s decomposable.
When it comes to choosing a bag, maybe the right choice for you is polyester. The colors won’t fade, and it's super easy to clean. Polyester will last a long time, longer than a similar bag made of natural fibers. It’s a sustainable choice if it’s POD and made with eco-friendly inks.
Both cotton and polyester can be sustainable choices depending on what the item is, how you use it, and how you care for it.
More things for you to consider could be buying second-hand and DIY. You may enjoy hunting for the perfect second-hand items to add to your closet. Or there might be a workshop that teaches you how to knit a scarf or make a headband.
Making sustainable choices as a consumer can be tricky. But the right attitude will make it a whole lot easier.
• Think through your choices. Choose quality over quantity.
• Buy with purpose. Buy what you know you will use and enjoy.
• Love what you buy. Care for your quality items.
If you’ve always wanted to know what those tiny fabric care label symbols are all about, download this laundering and dry cleaning symbols chart.
If ya wanna know more about who makes the Twinki-Winki cotton slogan tees, watch this video about Bella+Canvas and their eco-friendly clothing production. And as for the printing of the slogans on the tees themselves, here’s a video by Kornit Digital that sums up their stance on POD (print-on-demand) and sustainability.