Sustainable Dyes...Are Natural Dyes The Answer?

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Consequences of Fabric Dye

Since Indigo Apparel is a sustainable clothing brand, people often assume we use natural dyes. Although that’s a common misconception, the dye that’s actually used in dyeing clothing for the brand is more sustainable than natural dyes. Despite the name, natural dyes are actually not as sustainable as you might think. Natural dyes are made from plants, minerals, or other biological materials. One reason they’re not sustainable is that the amount of natural material needed to make the amount of dye required for dying something is extremely large. Another reason is that the practices used to farm or acquire the natural materials requires an immense amount of petroleum fuels contributing to pollution.

As brutal as it sounds, when clothes are dyed, the chemicals from synthetic dyes enter the fabric, end up on our skin, and in the unfortunate instance they are discarded and end up in a landfill, enter the atmosphere. The dyeing industry contributes to almost 20 percent of global water pollution and it’s mostly due to the use of non-biodegradable pigments and the toxins that are released into the environment by facilities.

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Some Alternatives

Rather than using fabric dyes that are filled with toxins, there are plenty more sustainable options out there! Slowly but surely, countries are starting to regulate the dyes that are being used. In 2017, after new legislation was put in place, China shut down a number of companies that were making synthetic textile dyes.

What to Look for in Dyes

“Low-impact”: if a dye says it’s ”low-impact”, it’s classified as eco-friendly by an international certification process. GOT Certified Dyes: Clothing that is certified Global Organic Textile Standards use only dyes approved by the Standards Committee. Azo-free dyes: Azo dyes are able to color fabric without the need for a mordant (a substances that fixes a dye to fabric). As convenient as that sounds because it eliminates a middleman, when some azo dyes are used, they can form amines, which can cause cancer. Therefore some have been banned so it’s a safe bet to stick to dyes labeled Azo-free.

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By Jainy Teuchtler @jainy.teuchtler

Sources

PreScouter - Global-Standard - Organic Lifestyle - Fibre2Fashion

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