Why Print-On-Demand Technology Is Good For the Planet – Bird’s the Word

Why Print-On-Demand Technology Is Good For the Planet

Why Print-On-Demand Technology Is Good For the Planet

February 17, 2020

The fashion industry is one of the most wasteful on the planet. It's responsible for more than 10% of global carbon emissions, more than all maritime shipping and international flights combined. Emissions aren't the only problem: about 85% of all textiles end up in the landfill each year. And in the last twenty years, people have bought around 60% more clothing per year, and have only worn it half as long as they used to. If we continue on at this pace, we'll be consuming more apparel than ever in a decade, growing by an estimated 40 million metric tons.

A large part of the problem is that clothing retailers order more inventory than they could possibly sell, and are forced to destroy this unused stock at the end of each season. Much of it is destroyed in incinerators, burned into extinction as what brands refer to as "deadstock". Luxury brands don't want unsold merchandise flooding the market and damaging their premium brand equity, and fast fashion brands simply make too much and need to incinerate the excess. All of these perfectly wearable clothes and shoes are routinely destroyed, preventing them from reaching people in need. Our endless appetite for consumption is damaging the planet, and we need to do something about it.

Here at Bird's the Word, we're taking this problem seriously. To address the issue of clothing brands' inventory excess, we've decided to only produce clothing using print on demand (POD) technology. POD developed as digital printing techniques advanced, beginning with the book publishing industry. Now, everything from clothing to bags can be printed after a customer places an order, so no inventory ever needs to be stocked!

Everything we sell is made to order. Your order. We don't make it until you buy it, so you can be sure there's no deadstock being sent to incinerators or the landfill. Of course, this does increase the time it takes for your order to arrive on your doorstep. We find that orders take seven to ten business days on average once a customer makes a purchase, with some of our items shipping more quickly than others. We realize that's a bit slower than many of us have come to expect in a world of instant gratification, but we think it's worth it to know that your purchase is created real-time for you (and for the planet).

What to do if your order doesn't fit and you'd like to make an exchange? Simple! We'll give you a refund as long as you request one within thirty days of your purchase date, and from there you're free to purchase another item in a different size. But wait... what are you supposed to do with the item that didn't fit? Isn't there somewhere you can ship it to?

Our answer might surprise you: nope. No thank you. We don't receive any returned merchandise, though we do offer refunds within thirty days. Rather than returning merchandise through the mail (and adding to its carbon footprint), we ask that you give it to a friend or find someone in need who could use it instead. Crazy, right? Maybe, but we think that dumping or burning tons of perfectly good merchandise is even crazier.

You can rest easy knowing that you're helping to solve the landfill problem by buying from an inventory-free company. And by finding a home for any returns on your end, you're helping to cut our company's carbon footprint.