What has veganism got to do with T-shirts?
It’s a strange concept because it’s not like you get to eat your garments but it is a very real and growing trend right now.
The demand for t shirts which satisfy an objective to avoid using animal products and an absence of animal testing or cruelty of any kind has now produced a set of products and decorative processes that have undergone scrutiny by the relevant bodies to allow them to be classified as vegan-friendly.
There are 2 components to a vegan-friendly product. The garment and the print process.
We have 2 brands that have been approved by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
Both of these brands in similar ways cover as far as is possible, an ethical stance on animals and also the human beings involved in the production and the environment in which they are grown and processed.
What makes these ‘vegan’ is obviously the complete absence of animal products or testing in the manufacturing process or materials. You might say ‘how does a t shirt have any of these issues anyway?’ and that would not be a ridiculous question.
Many raw products such as wool and furs and leather, all of which are used in the manufacture of some items of clothing naturally involve the housing, the treatment, the slaughter and disposal of animals.
Cotton has no obvious connection to the issue of animal treatment unless you examine the farming of cotton and the effects it has on the environment which naturally will affect indigenous animals living in the farming areas.
Millions of rodents and other small animals/mammals live within harms way and millions of aquatic animals that inhabit the waterways that these framed areas run-off into, live in harms way. Particularly and especially if the farm is not adhering to organic farming practices and is using harmful pesticides to maximise the crop yield.
Cotton which comes from sustainable and organic farms, on the other hand, offers some protection to the indigenous wildlife and this is where PETA’s stamp of approval for cotton products is based on.
It is this organic standard which the Stanley Stella and the Earth Positive products are aligned to and which PETA recognises as contributing positively to animal welfare.
Both brands hold an accreditation by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and are officially recognised and approved by PETA.
THE PRINT PROCESSES
As far as we are aware and at the time of writing this blog, there is only one PETA approved print process.
This is a digital printing process on a Kornit ‘direct to garment’ digital printer using the water-based inks developed for this machine.
If you want your designs to be screen printed then we do not know of an officially approved PETA ink but, there are a number of waterbased inks which do not have a PETA approval but do have all the criteria to satisfy their approval if the ink manufacturer wanted to undertake the PETA audit.
The SOIL ASSOCIATION uses a set of auditing criteria established by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) to assess the environmental and social impact of an ink.
This criterion is designed to assess the ‘organic’ compatibility to help reduce the harm to the environment and therefore the harm to animals.
If you couple the PETA approved garments with a SOIL ASSOCIATION ink and printing process then you have achieved as far as is possible, a product that can be considered as vegan friendly.
THIS DOES NOT MEAN you can advertise your product as PETA approved.
This would only be possible if your entire product had been evaluated by PETA themselves and they are unlikely to do this unless you are prepared to commit to the rigours and cost of an audit and if PETA view the endeavor as worthwhile.
At the time of writing this and based on our experiences with PETA, we do not believe they have the resources or systems to be able to offer this but like all organisations, they do evolve to match the needs of the market and you may find this has changed if you contact them.
What you are able to do, if you sell garments from the brands outlined above with the GOTS organic processes, is to describe your product in 2 parts and explain that your garment is approved and that the print processes are GOTS approved.
You as then, as far as possible with today’s materials and processes, able to claim your product is vegan-friendly.