5 Tips for Going Green in the Tattoo Industry | Painful Pleasures Community

5 Tips for Going Green in the Tattoo Industry

In honor of Earth Day, check out our 5 tips for maintaining a green, sustainable tattoo setup.
by Danny Tress Last Updated: June 1, 2022

As you know, a busy day at the shop demands an exhaustive supply list. How often do you find yourself restocking ink caps, cartridges, disposable gloves, cohesive wraps, stencil paper, barrier film, and other medical supplies? From your studio to landfill, this waste adds up. In fact, millions of tons of plastic waste ends up in landfills year-round. Consequently, disposable plastic waste can sit and pollute the land for centuries. It can also get incinerated, releasing harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. 

Of course, tattooing necessitates lots of waste. As of now, it’s unavoidable. But there are small steps you can take to reduce it and make a huge difference. In fact, making those steps toward a greener tattoo setup doesn’t even have to be time-consuming or pricy. 

While disposable tattoo supplies are still popular (and sometimes essential) cost-efficient and eco-friendly strides are still being made! You’ll find biodegradable options from top brands like Peak, Fellowship, Saferly, and more. 

Unfortunately, researching how to become more eco-friendly can be daunting and time-consuming. So, we’ve done the research for you. 

Check out 5 quick tips for being more eco-friendly in your tattoo shop

Green Tip 1: Choose Biodegradable Tattoo Supplies

A great way to start reducing your lasting eco-impact is by switching some of your go-to plastic tattoo supplies for biodegradable options. Even if you only add one (1) biodegradable product to your daily setup, you’re making a huge difference. That’s because biodegradable and compostable tattoo supplies don’t take nearly as much energy to make as traditional plastic. So, that means less greenhouse emissions and fewer fossil fuels in the manufacturing process. Here are some of our top-favorite eco-friendly tattoo products: 

First, we recommend Peak’s biodegradable cork grips. Yeah, you heard that right. They’re the first-ever biodegradable tattoo grips on the market. And it isn’t just the cork that’s biodegradable; it’s the plastic tubes, too. Additionally, these grips are firm but comfortable in your hand. They don’t compromise on the ergonomic quality of other disposable grips. But they’re guilt-free… because you won’t be filling your bin with plastic that goes straight to the landfill.  

Second, you can easily swap your plastic ink caps for Fellowship Clean Caps. These ink caps are made from 100% biodegradable cellulose material. While you may scoff at the idea of ink caps made of wood pulp, these bad boys are durable and designed to maintain their shape even during the longest tattoo sessions. Click here to see these caps being put to the test.

Third, there are plenty of smaller, everyday medical supplies that now come in biodegradable options. For example, Saferly offers biodegradable machine bags, skin prep razors, and eyebrow razors for tattoo and PMU artists. None of these green-friendly options compromise on quality. The machine bags are just as reliable as plastic bags, and the razors still give you sharp, quality stainless steel blades. Plus, your local landfill will thank you.  

Last, after tattooing, instead of cleaning up your tattoo workstation with paper towels, we recommend you try Recovery Lustra compressed towels. Paper towels are one of the most common sources of waste in most tattoo shops, and they don’t hold up well for extensive wipe-downs. Recovery Lustra towels, on the other hand, are durably made from 100% non-woven, biodegradable viscose. They don’t rip, tear, or leave any residue like standard paper towels. 

Lastly, you can also prep your clients’ skin and soak your equipment with biodegradable cleaners like Green Soap and Dr. Bronner’s. These soaps are organic, safe for the environment, and devoid of harsh fumes or chemical cleaners found in other traditional soaps. That means you won’t find any dyes, whiteners, or synthetic fragrances — and who doesn’t love the smell of Green Soap? 

Green Tip 2: Go Wireless

Wireless tattooing is a long-term, cost-effective option to consider if you want to cut back on daily waste. Tattooing with a wireless machine eliminates the need for a lot of extra equipment, including power cords, power supplies, additional barrier film, and clip cord sleeves. Overall, you’re not only reducing your plastic waste, but you’re also saving money.! There are plenty of great wireless tattoo machine options out there from Peak, FK Irons, Cheyenne, and all with adjustable features for intuitive, clean, and waste-reductive tattooing. 

If you’re not ready to get a new machine you can still make your setup wireless. Just add a battery pack to create a wireless powerhouse and enjoy the eco-friendly benefits of a cord-free setup. The Peak Forge and Forge-C battery packs come with RCA and 3.5mm (Cheyenne) input connections, making them compatible with any rotary tattoo machine. You’ll also find powerhouse battery packs by FK Irons and Critical. 

Green Tip 3: Reuse, Don’t Dispose!

We understand: Disposable equipment is, well, super convenient. 

However, there are many benefits to adding reusable tattoo supplies like machine grips to your arsenal.  

We offer a variety of aluminum tattoo grips including grips by Peak, FK Irons, Cheyenne, Vlad Blad, and more. Many of these grips offer adjustable needle depth features utilizing a unique click system. That means not only is your grip reusable, but it also enhances your overall tattooing experience. While autoclaving may seem daunting, you can rest assured that an aluminum grip is durable and long-lasting, unlike single-use disposable plastic. 

Green Tip 4: Shop Vegan-Friendly Tattoo Ink

Vegan-friendly tattoo ink isn’t just for vegans! Tattooing with plant-based vegan-friendly ink reduces our reliance on animal products, which is a huge stressor on the environment. Look at your current go-to tattoo inks and examine the ingredients. Inks that aren’t vegan-friendly may contain components like shellac, glycerin from animal fats, bone char, or gelatin. These sorts of ingredients are most commonly found in black tattoo inks. 

The great news? Some of the most top-rated tattoo ink brands are vegan-friendly and many of them offer super dark, super crispy black pigments, like World Famous Blackout ink. For tattoo ink manufactures making vegan-friendly formulas and plant-based glycerin, check out World FamousIntenze, Tommy’s StarBriteEternal, Kuro Sumi, and Dynamic. Additionally, in light of the EU ink ban, top ink manufacturers, like World Famous are producing high-quality, vegan-friendly inks that are REACH-compliant. Click here to learn more. 

Green Tip 5: Offer Metal + Organic Body Jewelry

When was the last time you evaluated the body jewelry selection in your tattoo or piercing shop? Though super fun to look at, plastic or acrylic body jewelry has an incredibly high negative impact on the environment from production to disposal.  

A sustainable alternative is stainless steel, titanium, and organic body jewelry.

How does metal body jewelry help the environment, you may ask? Many green manufacturers favor stainless steel and titanium production over plastic due to its lower environmental impact. No harmful chemicals are involved during the manufacturing process, and there are no harmful coatings on steel or titanium jewelry that lead to toxic runoff. 

Organic body jewelry requires even less resources and energy to create, given it’s all naturally sourced from bone, wood, polished brass, and stone. Plus, the handmade aesthetic of organic body jewelry offers much more variety for your clients’ self-expression. 

In recognition of Earth Day, we hope that these 5 quick tips help you create an eco-friendlier tattoo shop! Here at PainfulPleasures we’re making our own strides towards becoming a more sustainable provider. That includes using biodegradable jewelry packaging, box shredding and several other changes to reduce everyday waste.  

Check out our variety of green and biodegradable products today as you make small shifts toward a greener, more sustainable future. 

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