The tattoo industry in the Western world has been increasing in popularity since the 1970s as more people are deciding to become both artists and canvases. In recent years, the term ‘eco-friendly tattooing’ has become prevalent as sustainable practices have become an economic incentive for companies.
Utca Tattoo located in Utrecht, Netherlands advertises their eco-friendly tattoo practices to clients. Jos Snijders, co-owner of Utca Tattoo explains that the shop is always employing as many sustainable options as possible. “Eco Friendly tattooing is getting rid of excessive plastics and using recycled material, so that is what we do.” she says, “we are completely natural gas free as well,” she concluded.
In a report from the European Commission in 2016, most tattoo inks were found to contain heavy metals and plastics, thus issuing a warning to citizens. This report brought forth many concerns surrounding safety but also the environmental sustainability of body art.
Utca Tattoo ensures the inks they use are safe and sustainable, “we think of the environment and the client so we will only use vegan inks,” Snijders said.
Tattoos in Western society, though their rising prominence, are still vastly seen as excitingly anti-establishment. Upon adding a sustainable element to the advertising stands to increase their popularity even more. Therein lies the root of the concern; greenwashing.
Greenwashing can be understood as a company spending more effort and money on promoting itself as environmentally friendly rather than reducing its environmental impact. Businesses often employ these methods as an incentive to attract more consumers as well as to make a moral grandstand to its competitors.
Since Utca Tattoo opened its doors three years ago, the owners have personally put emphasis on sustainability. “Myself and the other owner are both vegan so we really value the environment and wanted to carry that over to work too,” Snijders said.
By integrating their personal sustainability ideals into the operation of Utca Tattoo, Snijders is hopeful that their self-interests will be reflected in the clientele.