Sustainability Series: Why Use Natural Dyes?
For thousands of years, people used plants to dye materials and fabrics. The most widespread die with the oldest tradition is indigo, originating from India, over four thousand years ago.
Although natural dyes are better for our bodies and our planet, synthetic dyes took over the clothing industry due to convenience and demand for variation. It is vital to connect consumers back to their roots and why supporting natural products is important.
Natural dyes are biodegradable, non-toxic, and non-allergenic. Because natural dyes are made from plants and organic matter, they can be antimicrobial, meaning the dyes repel bacteria's production, which are great for children's clothes or anyone with sensitive skin. Natural dyes aren't only great for our health, but also heal the planet.
Unlike natural dyes, synthetic dyes harm the environment and communities surrounding textile manufacturers. During the coloration process, most synthetic dyes do not bind to the fabric, leaving toxic waste to end up in nearby rivers and waterways. This negatively affects the whole ecosystem, poisoning animals along riverbeds, and eventually ending up in the soil where we grow our food.
On average, during the dyeing process, a t-shirt will use 16-20 liters of water, which means that the global textile industry discharges 40,000 – 50,000 tons of dye into the water system annually.
Because natural dyes are made organically, they do not pollute waterways, they eventually decompose and go back to heal our soils. Using natural dyes can bring consumers closer to nature and help close the waste loop at the end of the fabric's life.
Natural dyes are just the beginning of bringing nature's gifts to the modern-day utility.