Like jeans, T-shirts are a staple of almost everyone’s wardrobe – men, women and children. Unfortunately, most T-shirts are made in the cheapest way possible and are quite bad for the environment and your health. The average T-shirt is made from pesticide-sprayed cotton, in a sweatshop in a third world country, dyed with chemical dyes and printed with harmful PVC plastics – all before it makes it onto your back. Happily, a small company in North Carolina called T.S. Designs is looking to change all of this with their ambitiously environmental mission to produce and screenprint high quality apparel in a local, organic and environmentally sustainable way.

Think of your favorite old printed T-shirt.. Has the ink gotten cracky after repeated washings? Ever been able to peel bits of the printed plastic paint off with your fingers? The reason for all of this is plastisol. Most traditional cheap T-shirts are printed with this PVC-based – a chemical that is not only bad for the environment, but also bad for your health.

The U. S. screenprinting industry uses an estimated 1.5 million gallons of plastisol ink every year, and between 30% to 50% of that ink contains PVCs & phthalates. PVC (polyvinyl chloride) — often referred to as “‘vinyl” — is one of the most versatile of the plastic materials and yet most hazardous for the environment – releasing dioxins, one of the most toxic chemicals and potent carcinogens known to science. Phthalates are no better – Greenpeace claims that phthalates are suspected cancer-causing agents, could damage the liver and kidneys, might damage the development of reproductive organs, and might interfere with development by acting as a mimic of the sex hormone estrogen. Not something you necessarily want wrapped around you or your childrens’ bodies.

The solution to all this is a new water based dying process called REHANCE. Working with Burlington Chemical, T.S. Designs has pioneered a new screenprinting technology that utilizes water-based chemistry instead of plastic inks. REHANCE is much safer for the environment and human health as it has no PVC (polyvinyl chloride), phthalates, and leaves no environmentally hazardous residues. It also last longer, looks better and allows printed shirts to ‘breathe” in the way that Plastisol coated shirts cannot.

TSDesigns exemplifies a commitment to doing things better in almost every facet of the company. They produce their own organic cotton T-shirts in North Carolina – promoting local manufacturing, social responsibility and local economies as well organic textiles.

“In an apparel industry that has been mostly displaced with foreign companies we believe if you go outside of your market to produce a product that your market could provide then it is not sustainable.”

And if this weren’t enough, these guys have a solar powered factory, a co-op garden at the factory, and a biodiesel project as well. A shining example of integrity and idealism – we’d like to see all companies striving to be as positive and future-forward as this one. We’d also like to encourage anyone thinking about printing T-shirts to make a beeline over to the T.S. Designs website, and learn about why REHANCE is the only way to go for high quality T-shirts.

+ TS Designs


Treehugger recently did a great interview with TSDesigns founder Eric Henrycheck it out here >

ADDENDUM – I just got a bunch of samples in the mail from T.S. Designs, and I’ve posted some photos of them below. To the people who think REHANCE doesn’t look good, I can assure you it looks much better than plastisol screen-printing. The colors are just as strong and crisp, only the shirts are breatheable and there is no weird plasticy feeling. I honestly think REHANCE is the future of apparel printing. And I’m not just saying this because T.S. Designs is sponsoring our T-Shirt contest. In fact, its the opposite – I went out of my way to track these guys down and make sure they would work with us for the T-Shirt contest because the work is so far superior to any other screenprinting.


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  1. Sustainably Grateful October 20, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Does TS offer Eco-friendly all-over sublimation printing?

  2. indigo November 14, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Interesting to see an alternative to plastisol printing. Will keep watching with interest.

    Alex W
    T Shirt Printing from Indigo Clothing, UK

  3. Ray Wiech September 21, 2010 at 1:25 am

    Idea for your website

    What would a huge increase in relevant traffic mean for your business? If I could greatly increase the amount of customers who are interested in your products and services, wouldn’t you be interested

  4. jefflove July 14, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    I need a trade printer for national accounts. We supply CMYK, you offer turn key / drop ship. Have orders now 144 – 288 usual quantities

  5. cco168 October 15, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    “jgregorio Says: April 18th, 2008 at 11:22 pm Hi TS DESIGNS,I am a young entrepreneur in the Philippines and planning to put up an aaparel business.However I am more concerned on my contribution to the environment. I am thinking of an environment friendly products such as shirts and others. I dont think we have suppliers here in the philippines. Can you help me with this business?Thank you and appreciate your response.JAY”

    I am from the Philippines too and I would like to know what you recommended to Jay. Thanks.


  6. Dickie May 23, 2008 at 12:20 am

    only thing is that “rehance” is a proprietary method that TS Designs doesn’t seem to want ot share with other printers. If they want to save the world so much, then why not share the system with all other printers who want it? Seems like a convenient profit funnel. Seems like the earth would appreciate it if they shared it rather than making it out of reach or too expensive for others to use.

  7. jgregorio April 18, 2008 at 11:22 pm


    I am a young entrepreneur in the Philippines and planning to put up an aaparel business.However I am more concerned on my contribution to the environment. I am thinking of an environment friendly products such as shirts and others. I dont think we have suppliers here in the philippines. Can you help me with this business?

    Thank you and appreciate your response.


  8. Jon March 13, 2008 at 7:35 am

    Wonderful designs !! The information given is also very good..

  9. cleatus February 5, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    ts designs are cool BUT
    there cotton is from Turkey that aint AMERICA
    the process is cool but it aint cheap
    you got to get at least 200 of any color with no price break any where
    even if ya get 1000 or more
    not to good if ya got a budget and your trying to get in stores

  10. Chris Shea January 25, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Where is TS Designs now?
    Need to place an order…

  11. Myschief0 January 23, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    The truly wise environmentalist knows that there is NO perfect environmental solution. We can, however get pretty close to “perfect.”

  12. Phillip January 18, 2008 at 6:35 pm


    With all due respect, you’re incorrect. You do not need to create screens with ‘harsh’ agents. We use the same emulsions any other printing shop uses. And the agent used to clean the screen is basic emulsion remover and water.

    And when printing on dark fabric, discharge is but one option. We choose not to use discharge because it isn’t the safest. There are inks that will print directly onto darks without needing to discharge.

    It’s always a good idea to check your facts with up to date information. The waterbased textile industry is changing very rapidly due to a huge demand for more environmentally friendly printing solutions.

    Phillip Newell

  13. Ryan December 28, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    Ok Ok Ok…first of all waterbased Prints are not a new thing, nor is printing on Organic T’s…

    In order to screen print with Waterbased Inks the agents you use to create the screens is MUCH more harsh and harmful to the environment than Plastisol Screens (and once you have created a waterbased screen the agent used to clean the screen is much more harsh). Also! If you are printing a lighter color (lighter color than the shirt), you have to use a process called tinted discharge…this process involves adding bleach to the inks in order to dye the fabric. Bleach down the drain aint good for the environment last time I checked

    Concerning Fabric Organic Cotton has a yield of 60% Therefore you need to use 40% more water / land to produce the same amount of cotton for fabrics.

    Pick your Poison People

  14. James La Pierre July 5, 2007 at 3:23 am

    Like the idea and i need shirts printed. what’s prices on shirts and prints and what do the colors look like after printing?

    please respond, asap. Hawai’i printers suck.

  15. Gary Hillery June 27, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    I am starting up an organic cotton t-shirt business and need a printer to print my company logo and designs on my shirts. I currently have a printer who has been unable to meet my needs and would like to talk to someone with your company to discuss my needs. Please contact me via the email above or call me at 602-326-2262


  16. Michael June 1, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    I need to get some printing on t-shirts done. Who can I call in regards to this? Thanks.

  17. Wacky Zacky May 31, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    I just wanted to toss in my opinion, I live up in Canada and recently found Rehance t-shirts at a local health food store. The brand is Green Label. I love t-shirts, I’ve designed tons, and this is the best t-shirt I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure about the available colour palette, but the quality of the print was exceptional. The cleanest, clearest print I’ve ever seen, and the fabric’s hand was just awesome, you can barely feel the print. The light colours (a fairly decent white, but not blinding titanium oxide white) looked so good on dark backgrounds I originally thought they must be somehow bleached into the fabric (?!), but looking at the inside of the shirt they don’t bleed through at all. I mean this shirt is like silk must have been when it was the secret of Chinese kings! If you haven’t seen it, it is the schnizz baby, and the environmental specs are cool too- Zack

  18. christopher April 25, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    HEllo… Just wondering when the final selections will be determined. Thank you!

  19. tony April 20, 2007 at 11:38 pm

    Love the concept, but how long before someone runs off to the Orient to reverse engineer this technique?
    I hear a lot of talk from major brands ‘wanting” to adopt this new “eco” way – but I see it as a mere marketing ploy
    (I work in the ‘rag” trade BTW). The “knock-offs” will still be swaetshop produced, but they will hype up the Bamboo fibers and “eviro” printing techniques (again BS). In the end, we are to blame, because we, as consumers want it all for nothing. Proof is all the shipping containers piling up due to a major trade inbalance – I guess we will have to build some funky pre-fabs with them 😉 !!


  20. Rina (green rain graphics) April 19, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    An .eps of the tshirt would be handy, though in Illustratrator, one could trace the jpeg. Great site, great contest. Hope I can get a design out in time!


  21. chris April 16, 2007 at 9:03 am

    are there blank t-shirt templates available on which to place our designs?

  22. Lynn April 12, 2007 at 6:56 am

    This is brilliant. Wish we had eco-friendly shirt printers over here.

  23. adam April 6, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    This is good stuff…..folks who are into it might also want to check out No Enemy is a small independent clothing company out of Santa Cruz with a similar tilt. We need more of this in the world, no doubt. Cheers to TS designs!

  24. Jill April 6, 2007 at 2:01 am

    Hi All-

    I just added an addendum to this post, with 4 new photos of T.S. Designs REHANCE T shirts in action on yours truly. I just got a bunch of samples in the mail from T.S. Designs, and I can assue you that REHANCE looks much better than plastisol screen-printing. The colors are just as strong and crisp, only the shirts are breatheable and there is no weird plasticy feeling.

  25. Mar April 5, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    This is great. I wish my old fave tee could live longeeerrrr!!!

  26. paul April 4, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Another good option is, The Planet Ink Company…

  27. royalestel April 4, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Mike, In reading the Treehugger interview I saw that T.S.Designs actually works with American Apparel, as a yarn source.

  28. Jill April 4, 2007 at 9:58 am

    Hi Richie-

    The organic cotton T-shirts are bright white, and from what I’ve seen, the REHANCE actually looks superior to plastisol. Its a different sort of look, of course, but I prefer it.

    And Mike – American Apparel is one of these guys suppliers for organic cotton T-shirts.

  29. Richie April 4, 2007 at 8:59 am

    I’m glad that T.S. designs found a positive solution to the cheap labor reality of the developing world. Focusing on ‘value added’ products makes sense for businesses in the developed world, as we cannot compete on price (labor, materials, etc.) with the developing world.

    That said, a while back I’d been shown examples of T-shirts printed with the ‘rehance’ process. Unfortunately, looks wise and visual impact wise they were not competitive with the platisol ink – silk screen process T-shirts. What I’m saying is that the PVC – Plastisol – Silk Screen process T-shirts look A LOT better… or at least that was the case a few years ago.

    So here are my questions:

    1) Have there been additional upgrades and improvements to the ‘rehance’ process that enables shirts that use that process to be more visually competitive with the pvc – plastisol – silk screen process shirts (or itmes) ???

    2) Have there been developments that enable organic cotton T-shirts to be bleached , and therefore to visually match up with the bright whites of standard shirts, and to provide a clear (neutral) platform for adding crisp, clean, other colors ???

    The last time I checked… organic cotton Tee’s and the ‘rehance’ process still had work to do in these areas.

    I wish T.S. Designs the very best. Made in the USA has a nice ring to it !

  30. Mike April 4, 2007 at 12:15 am

    American Apparel could learn something from these guys…

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