Photo by secretlondon123

That hard, rubbery texture on your favorite screen-printed tee? More likely than not, it’s plastisol, a PVC-derived ink that not only releases harmful dioxins during its manufacture but also off-gasses toxic phthalates into the air and water. To provide a far greener option—both literally and figuratively—Imagine GreenWear is harnessing the power of a marine vegetable you find in your sushi: seaweed. Starting with its fall line, the Fairfax, VA apparel company will be screening its men’s, women’s, and children’s clothes using a dye formulated with seaweed as its base. And because the low-impact dye binds to the fibers at the molecular level, the shirt design won’t crack or peel in the wash like conventional inks.

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Using a food-safe base was important to Mark Fishbein, the company’s CEO, particularly because Imagine GreenWear first catered to children. “The inspiration behind the brand was me seeing a romper made of organic cotton with a heavy plastisol print on it as I was shopping for my grandson a few years ago,” he tells Ecouterre. “As a career screen-printer, it got the wheels in my mind turning.”

The company plans to have its in-house facility in Virginia GOTS-certified by next spring.

Together with his partner, Cas Shiver, Fishbein founded Imagine GreenWear to provide an eco-friendlier, healthier alternative. “We use non-bleached fabric made of organic cotton grown in Texas, sew the garment with Oeko-Tex-certified cotton thread, and use the most eco-friendly printing process,” Fishbein says. “This allows [us] to take care of the people making the clothes while doing the least damage to the environment as possible.”

Everything is produced in-house in a facility in Virginia, which the company aims to have certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS, for short) by 2012. “As a society, we have to get away from ‘Go Green’ T-shirts made of poly-cotton material and printed with plastic inks, which does not equal “green” in my book,” Fishbein says. “Clothing is such a basic human need yet its manufacturing has a huge effect on the environment.”

Since we take care of what goes into our bodies, shouldn’t we do the same for what goes on top of them?

+ Imagine GreenWear