How Sustainable is Print On Demand? Be Eco-Friendly In 2023?

If you are looking to start a business and want to be as sustainable as possible, then Print On Demand is a great business model to use.

In this article, I explain how sustainable is print on demand and provide key initiatives that I’ve implemented in my POD store to further help the environment.

What is Print on Demand?

Print on Demand is a process where artwork, photographs, and other designs are printed

onto items such as clothing, mugs, and phone cases when an order is placed. The process is relatively quick and cost-effective, making it a popular choice for businesses that want to offer custom or personalized items without the need for large stock holdings. 

Print-On-Demand Benefits

The primary benefit of POD is the cost-effectiveness of producing items on-demand. This means that businesses can produce items without having to purchase large amounts of stock upfront.

This also means that businesses can offer custom or personalized products without having to pay for large stock holdings, which can be costly and time-consuming. Additionally, businesses are able to respond quickly to changing customer demands, allowing them to remain competitive in the market. 


Sustainability has become a hot topic in recent years as people become more aware of environmental issues. The term “sustainable” is used to refer to the practices and products that reduce the negative impacts of human activities on the environment.

This includes reducing the amount of energy and materials used, as well as reducing waste. In the fashion industry, sustainability has become a focus in order to reduce the amount of textile waste generated by the production and consumption of clothing.

Sustainability of Print on Demand

There are a number of areas where POD suppliers have made changes and implemented eco-friendly options to help you be more sustainable with your online store. Here are some ways POD can help:

Reduces Waste and Use of Resources

Printing products on demand eliminates the need to hold stock and prevents unsold items from being sent to landfill. An item is made to order so you avoid consuming resources for products that end up in landfills.

Local production

As a result of the global reach of some print-on-demand services like Printful and Gelato the transportation distances are significantly reduced which in turn reduces the carbon emissions on each order. You can also get your products delivered quicker and avoid import taxes too.


Is the print on demand product produced in a sustainable way by the manufacturer? Companies like Gildan have stepped up their game and now detail the lengths they go to reduce the impact on the environment through sustainable practices. They are reducing energy usage, using more environmentally friendly energy sources and less water.

There are some brands, like Stanley Stella that are eco focussed on sustainability at the core of what they do. With an organic range that uses 100% organic cotton to supply chain that is certified by various bodies and standards.

Stanley Stella Sustainability Actions


POD Businesses take the product and apply your design to it using specialist equipment and inks. Companies like Inkthreadable use Kornit printers and eco inks that are both vegan, eco-friendly and approved by OEKO-TEX® approved – they don’t contain any regulated or unregulated chemicals harmful to the environment.


Some POD suppliers offer plastic-free packaging for some or all of their products. This helps reduce the amount of single-use plastic that ends up in landfills.

Did you know: Inkthreadable started plastic-free packaging in April 2019 and saves 8 tonnes of single-use plastic each year. 

Other Considerations

If you want to enhance the sustainability credentials of your online store, here are a couple of initiatives I have implemented in my stores to reduce the impact on the environment and make things greener:

Returned Items

If you have a clothing brand you are most likely going to get items returned. Rather than throwing these away, resell them or donate them to charity.

Donate To An Eco Charity

I partnered with Ecologi and through donations, I plant 2 trees for every item that I sell. This simple choice helps give back and reduces the impact on the environment of running your store.


How Sustainable Is Print On Demand – Conclusion

The POD business model utilizes modern print-on-demand technology to ensure it is more sustainable than traditional printing methods.

It is a great way for independent artists to produce custom or personalized products without having to invest in large stock holdings and prevents waste.

Additionally, businesses are now taking steps to ensure that their products are produced sustainably, using organic ranges and sustainable apparel in order to reduce their environmental impact.

With more and more POD suppliers taking steps to reduce their impact on the environment it is worth checking their suitability credentials when choosing a POD company for your eCommerce business.

What is Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainable fashion is an approach to the production process of clothing, accessories, and other items within the fashion industry that focuses on sustainability. It means producing fashionable items in a way that has a minimal environmental impact and takes into account the life cycle of each garment.

This includes sourcing sustainable materials like organic cotton, recycled polyester, or hemp; adhering to ethical working conditions for factory workers; and minimizing mass production processes. In short, sustainable fashion encourages more conscious decision-making throughout the entire production process from source to end product.

It also encourages a more holistic view of sustainability in terms of its economic and social impacts on people and the environment. Sustainable fashion seeks to build a more responsible relationship between the industry and its stakeholders by considering not only the environmental but also social impacts of every step in its life cycle – from design to production, use, reuse and disposal.

Is Print On Demand Eco-Friendly?

Print on demand is an eco-friendly printing process for custom-made products. It is a more efficient and sustainable method of printing compared to the traditional approach of bulk printing. Instead of having to produce large quantities at once, it allows individual items to be printed as needed. This significantly reduces waste and overproduction, which benefits both the environment and businesses alike. Additionally, print on demand often uses environmentally friendly materials such as recycled paper or biodegradable inks, further decreasing its impact on the earth. By using this method for their printing needs, companies can help protect the planet while also providing their customers with high-quality products that are tailored to their exact needs.

How Can I Make Sustainable Print On Demand T-shirts?

Making sustainable print-on-demand t-shirts is becoming increasingly popular in the e-commerce industry. The key to success is to choose eco-friendly product such as Stanley Stella Creator and a POD supplier that has sustainability at the heart of what they do. Organic cotton products are a great option as the cotton is grown without any chemical fertilizers or pesticides, making it a more sustainable choice.

Additionally, look for companies that use water-based inks instead of plastisol which contains PVC plastic and other chemicals. With these techniques, you can create t-shirts that aren’t just sustainable but also look great. When printing on demand, be sure to find a reliable supplier who has experience with ethical and environmentally friendly production methods. By taking these steps, you can make sure your print-on-demand t-shirts are both stylish and sustainable!

Using Sustainable Packaging

Using sustainable packaging is a great way to reduce our environmental footprint. Sustainable materials such as cardboard, paper, and cloth can be used instead of plastic which can take centuries to decompose in landfills. Recycled materials are also a great source of sustainable packaging and can be reused many times over. For example, print-on-demand t-shirts typically come in recycled packaging and use no additional plastic beyond what is necessary for the product itself. When using sustainable packaging, it’s important to ensure that the materials are sourced responsibly and made with recycled materials where possible. Materials like jute, hemp, and cotton are all excellent options that biodegrade quickly when disposed of correctly. By investing in sustainable packaging solutions, we can all make a difference in reducing our impact on the environment while still getting our products to customers safely and securely.

Choosing the Right Print-On-Demand Company

Choosing the right Print-on-Demand (POD) company is an important decision for any fashion label looking to produce sustainable and ethical garments. From ensuring the source materials used are recycled and or ethically sourced, to checking that the factories are WARP certified with acceptable working conditions there are several factors to consider when selecting a POD company.

Sustainability should be at the forefront of your search – look for companies that use recycled materials and support ethical fashion brands with transparent production processes. Additionally, research into the quality of their garments, as well as print techniques used, can help determine if their products align with your brand’s vision. Ultimately, choosing a POD company that meets your standards while also providing quality products is essential in establishing an ethical fashion brand.

Is DTG environmentally friendly?

DTG (Direct to Garment) printing is a popular method for printing designs onto shirts and other garments. It’s often seen as an environmentally friendly option because it uses water-based inks, which are free from harmful chemicals, and produces very little waste compared to other methods of garment printing. In addition, DTG printing requires less energy than other printing processes, so it has a lower environmental impact. Furthermore, since DTG prints directly onto the garment without the need for screen printing or any additional materials, there is less material waste overall. On top of that, most DTG printers are designed to be energy efficient and generate minimal emissions while they’re running. All these factors make DTG a more sustainable choice than traditional methods of garment printing.