Epson Supports The Human Milk Foundation

Epson and charity partner The Human Milk Foundation create online store to raise funds with dye-sublimated gifts

World Day of Human Milk was on 19th May and saw the launch of a new online store founded by Epson and its charity partner The Human Milk Foundation (HMF), which sells gifts using Epson’s dye-sublimated printers to help raise funds for the charity. The Human Milk Foundation provides donor human milk to sick premature babies in hospital neonatal intensive care units and to families at home such as mums with cancer and other conditions through the Hearts Milk Bank.

The new online store can be visited here:

The mugs and tote bags are locally manufactured in the UK by print on demand platform Prodigi, which print onto sustainably sourced fabrics and materials using Epson dye-sublimation printing technology. This includes Epson’s 44-inch SureColor SC-F6300 and the 24-inch SureColor SCF500.

Founded in 2014, Prodigi has since become the world’s leading print-on-demand platform, with in-house manufacturing facilities across the UK, the US, and mainland Europe, supported by a global network of print-on-demand fulfilment partners. Prodigi prints from locally resourced fabrics and materials and strives to bring production as close to the customer as possible to minimise the carbon footprint of its product-lifecycle. Epson’s dye-sublimation printers compliment this sustainable product life cycle by enabling the development of products to be done in-market and free from the carbon footprint of international freight transport.

James Old, Founder and CEO of Prodigi Group, commented: “This online store is iconic to the commercial viability and the low environmental impact that can be achieved with dye-sublimation printing technology.  Delivering quality without compromise to the environment has always been fundamental to Prodigi’s success and it’s enabled us to have a more seamless collaboration with businesses such as Epson and the Human Milk Foundation, both of which made it clear this was a priority to them from the get-go. Prodigi has long been an advocate of Epson technology and the SC-F6300 has been a workhorse for our dye-sublimation production. The SC-F500 has been a great addition for our smaller format production and its cartridge-free ink tank system has helped reduce the downtime usually experienced when changing cartridges.”

In an industry still converting from analogue to digital, only 6% of the world’s textiles are currently digitally printed, which presents a great opportunity for businesses looking to differentiate with faster turnover, higher flexibility and a more sustainable option for customers.

Products from the new online store feature bespoke designs by talented designer Emily Culpeper based on molecules such as Oxytocin and Prolactin, both key hormones found in human milk; the snowdrop flower, also known as the ‘milk flower’ which is the charity’s emblem; and seasonal designs e.g. Christmas. Mugs on the new HMF store will retail at £7.99 while tote bags will retail at £14.99. For every 13 mugs / 7 tote bags sold, funds raised will enable The Human Milk Foundation to onboard a new milk donor, whose milk would feed on average 20 babies.

Dr Natalie Shenker, Co-founder of the Human Milk Foundation comments: “We’re delighted to launch the HMF online shop in partnership with our charity partner Epson, using their sustainable printing technology to create these beautiful gifts which will raise vital funds to enable us expand our service and help more babies. The designs also raise awareness of the science of human milk and our work in supporting milk donors, including the very special mums who choose to donate their milk following bereavement.”

To support the development of the new online store and to offer a wider range of gifts to meet different consumer tastes, The Human Milk Foundation and Epson will be looking for and embarking on new design collaborations in the future.

Dr Natalie Shenker, Co-founder of the Human Milk Foundation

About the Human Milk Foundation

The HMF was conceived in 2017 by a group of parents, scientists, milk bank experts and doctors. The initial drivers came out of frustration at a lack of support for donor milk provision and countless stories of parents who wanted to access donor milk for their babies, who did not meet the criteria for donor milk use.

Scores of families where breastfeeding was impossible because of the mother facing illness, or being absent altogether, could not dream of accessing donor milk except in very rare circumstances. The vicious circle of disinvestment and consequent lack of research had to be broken.

The first step was to found the UK’s first independent, non-profit human milk bank, the Hearts Milk Bank , founded by Dr Natalie Shenker and Gillian Weaver. With the twin aims of providing equitable access to donor milk and initiating research, the HMB has rapidly grown to provide screened donor milk to hospital neonatal units across the southeast, London, East Anglia and beyond.

The HMB also provides milk to families in the community – over the first 3 years of operation we have sent over 2000 litres of milk that could not be used for hospitals has been used by over 100 families. No charge is made, and all milk was provided under the oversight of a healthcare professional. All babies have thrived, and in the cases where the donor milk was used to support the mother to establish her own supply, all the mothers successfully did! Many are still feeding their babies now. You can find out more about this work here.

Alongside the provision of milk, the milk bank team is enabling a raft of research, including ground-breaking work into the composition of human milk over the course of natural term lactation. This is only the start of a range of research projects, working with collaborators in the UK and further afield.

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