Local T-Shirts, Organic Cotton and Serious Renewable Energy: Q&A with Eric Henry of TS Designs

Cotton of the Carolinas/Screen capture

Eric Henry (right) of TS Designs is somewhat of a pioneer in the organic/sustainable apparel world. In the face of globalization and the North American Free Trade Agreement, Eric and his business partner Tom Sineath reinvented their T-shirt printing business to focus on organic, sustainable cotton t-shirts printed in as green a manner as possible. That focus went way beyond the garments themselves, seeing TS Designs incorporate solar power, staff gardens, a biodiesel coop and bee hives within their corporate facilities and becoming a B Corporation too. Recently, the company has even offering up its facilities for permaculture and bee keeping classes too.

TS Designs/Screen capture

This commitment to sustainability has lead to the company becoming one of the green t-shirt printers of choice—creating apparel for everyone from Green Festivals to Planet Green. But Eric and Tom weren't content to provide organic, sustainable t-shirts. They wanted to go seriously local too. In partnership with other surviving businesses in the NC cotton industry, TS Designs helped found Cotton of the Carolinas—an initiative to provide fully traceable, localized t-shirts that go from "dirt to shirt"—from farming to ginning, to dying and weaving—all within a radius of 700 miles.

That initiative landed Cotton of the Carolinas on CNN, and has recently even managed to incorporate organic cotton cultivation into its processes—a feat that was considered impossible by many agricultural experts in North Carolina.

Join us for a live chat with Eric Henry this Thursday 9th February at 3pm est as we explore the organic and local apparel business, the importance of sustainability and community-scale economies, and the idea of resilient business in the face of peak oil. The chat window will appear below, along with a text-entry option for posting questions, comments and discussion. Simply bookmark this page and return on Thursday at 3pm est to learn more about this innovative company.

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Disclosure: My branding business—The Change Creation—has previously worked with TS Designs on some of their communications. We are not currently working together on any projects.

Tags: Activism | Clothing | Corporate Responsibility | Economics | North Carolina | Renewable Energy | United States