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4 Sustainable Ways to Refresh Your Church’s Custom-Branded Apparel

At Real Thread, we value sustainability & take pride in using water-based inks. 🌎 And we’ll be the first to admit: we’re not ones for fast fashion—which creates a cycle of waste. Like, a lot of waste.

However, we do see the value in refreshing your church’s apparel to keep your members connected, in sync, and looking good—and we think there are some easy ways to do so without sacrificing sustainability.

Here are a few of our tips for refreshing your church’s swag without contributing to the fast fashion cycle:‍

Use an eco-friendly, high-quality garment 

When looking to make a sustainable apparel choice for your church community, the garment itself can definitely come into play.

We offer several sustainable garment options in our product builder, from brands like Known Supply, Royal Apparel, Allmade, econscious, Alternative Apparel, Next Level Apparel, and more. To learn more about what these brands are doing, check out our blog on the 6 best eco-friendly t-shirt brands.

These brands are actively trying to reduce garment waste—which is a massive problem throughout the apparel industry—by recycling used garments, reusing raw materials, and sometimes even using non-garment waste (like water bottles!) to create new fibers. Going with one of these options will ensure that you’re on the track to sustainable apparel before you even begin designing!

Choosing a blank garment that is higher quality and eco-friendly may be more expensive in the short-term, but it also means that your finished garments will be longer-lasting—which means you’ll have to pay for new designs far less frequently.

Craft an evergreen message

When playing the church apparel long-game, you want to think about consistency—the timeless messages of your community, as opposed to the more in-the-moment ones.

Printing targeted shirts around a particular event or initiative can be a fun way to build excitement, but choosing to instead print a less specific shirt with a more evergreen community message and encouraging your members to wear that garment at all events throughout the year could be a more sustainable way to approach your congregation-branded apparel decision-making.

Looking to still infuse a bit of variety into your refresh? Printing multiple evergreen messaging options in varying colorways allows your church community to choose which they prefer—which also increases the likelihood that they will actually like (and want to wear!) the garment rather than just shoving it into the back of a drawer, never to be thought of again.

Avoid trendy colors/designs 

Printing your design on a color that’s currently “in” may seem tempting in the moment—but, looking outside of current trends and choosing colors for your garment and design that stand the test of time will help ensure the longevity of your finished garment.

Consider your church’s internal branding guidelines—generally, these aren’t frequently changing. Taking this same approach with your custom-branded apparel can help from a sustainability standpoint, but can also help with broader brand reinforcement by adding consistency.

Still want to capitalize on in-the-moment happenings to build relevancy? Consider looking to more in-the-moment channels—like your congregation’s social media pages—to accomplish this, rather than a piece of apparel that may be irrelevant before it even makes it into your community’s hands.

Print with sustainable water-based inks

Industry-standard plastisol inks are made from PVC, which is terrible for the planet—Greenpeace even goes so far as to call it “poison plastic.”

It’s also itchy, uncomfortable, and prone to cracking & peeling after just a few washes—which means that the garment it is printed on probably won’t last.

At Real Thread, we’re committed to printing sustainably, so that the planet is as happy about your finished product as you are. We also believe that products that are printed well will get more wear—keeping them on your people and out of the landfill. Learn more about our inks (and what makes them different) here.

Ready for a (planet-friendly) refresh?

If you need help taking a step toward sustainability as you map out your church’s apparel needs for the year, we’re here to help. Feeling empowered and ready to start designing? That’s great too!

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