Evan Webster Ink, a screen printing company based in Charlotte, has recently upgraded their equipment and will utilize the new automated press to print tote bags for September’s Hemp Fest. The company can now print designs with up to 10 ink colors and the new equipment will allow for quicker turnaround, while maintaining or lowering their prices.

The company is extremely committed to serving their community – a driving force in their decision to partner with Hemp Fest. Community partnerships, Webster explained, is not only “an important thing to do, on many levels” but that it makes running his business “more fun.”

I really get a lot of pleasure from the connection that I make with other small businesses and people,” he said. “It’s good for the business and the community long-term to give back and be an active participant.”

Webster believes the industry will eventually be a boon to the state’s farmers, and mass-scale hemp fiber production in Vermont would allow his business to source more products locally.

Webster said his decision to partner with Hemp Fest was, in part, because he believes the industry will eventually be a boon to the state’s farmers, and mass-scale hemp fiber production in Vermont would allow his business to source more products locally. Although he admits that he has “limited experience” working with hemp fabrics, “that experience has been positive.”

These custom screen-printed tote bags will be available during 2017 Vermont Hemp Fest.

I think there is a huge opportunity with hemp,” he said. “I think it could improve the lives of farmers – which is really important to me – from an economic point of view; and it’s a sustainable crop for them. It would be cool for farmers to have another crop in their repertoire.”

The company’s website outlines their sustainability efforts and affirms their dedication to supporting local businesses and green business practices, including three major policies: local and community enrichment, fair labor practices, and their dynamic environmental policies. Evan Webster Ink does the “basic but important things” such as reducing waste, recycling, and conserving water; but also prefers working with vendors who honor the same commitments. Additionally, the company has access to eco-friendly products derived from recycled plastic bottles and bamboo. Kelly McDowell, office manager for Evan Webster Ink, indicated they hope to add hemp-based products to their line; however the consumer demand needs to exist first.

McDowell, who holds a master’s degree in social innovation and sustainability, hopes Hemp Fest will shine a light on the state’s burgeoning hemp industry and help build the demand for hemp consumer products. “We’re really hoping to work with more hemp products in the future,” McDowell said. “Hemp is a sustainable natural fiber that could replace cotton production. It doesn’t use as much water or resources or deplete the soil like cotton does.”

McDowell anticipates Vermont’s hemp industry “growing huge” as it matures and more farmers plant hemp crops.

You can’t grow cotton in Vermont,” McDowell said. “We’re in the t-shirt businesses and we’d love to see a more environmentally viable way to do business.”

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