Banner Creations, Inc., based in Minneapolis, MN, is an eco-centric print shop. The company’s primary business consists of printing on fabrics. This practice began in 2000 when the company discovered fabric made up of recycled soda bottles at Carolina Mills and Carolina Gloves. "We now offer several kinds of recycled soda bottle fabrics. This is important because the fabrics take the bottles out of the landfill and up-cycle them into a higher product," explains Nora Norby, president, Banner Creations. Media products include the Weaves of Green line from Aurora Specialty Textiles Group, Inc., Eco-Celtic and Eco-Janus fabric from Dazian Fabrics, products from Bloomsburg Mills, and media from Fisher Textiles Inc.—all of which fall under Banner Creations’ Ecophab product line.
Building on the theme of environmentally friendly, any leftover scraps of fabric from large format applications are used for other smaller projects. A Web site, www.targetmarketproducts.com, currently offers table runners and tote bags made from scrap fabric. Banner Creations hopes to eventually sell shower curtains on the site as well.
Neither customer demand nor competition pushed Norby to institute an eco-friendly sign shop, it was simply to help save the environment. "To me it’s an entire lifestyle, it’s not just printing on recycled soda bottles at work, it’s doing everything I can in every way," explains Norby. Indeed, the shop recycles shipping boxes, cans, and paper religiously; uses energy efficient light bulbs throughout the facility; and prints with aqueous-based inks.
Generating customer interest in eco-friendly media was initially difficult. According to Norby, it was a slow process to adapt customers to eco-friendly media because they didn’t realize the potential. "Drive down Main Street USA and you’ll see vinyl banners. They have permanent fold lines in them, don’t move in the wind, and are usually ripped," she says. Possible fold lines and tears are generally minimized, if not eliminated when using soft signage. Banner Creations’ customers soon began realizing this.
"For several years we hardly sold any of our products, customers would look at it and say it was nice. Many customers were concerned with cost over quality," comments Norby. In 2006, Banner Creations printed all of the banners and table covers—about 500 yards—for the MN State Fair Pollution Control Eco Experience. Attendees were impressed with the display quality and began asking for it.
A repeat customer of Banner Creations’ is National Fish and Wildlife. The shop creates banners with their Ecophab products. Banner Creations has created banners for at least 25 state offices in the Fish and Wildlife departments.
Despite the large environmentally friendly presence in Banner Creations’ shop Norby knows they can continue to do more, especially along the lines of educating other people. "We take it upon ourselves to educate people about what we can do to preserve the environment. We offer the Ecophab line to our customers even if they don’t ask for it," she admits.