If you made your way through the wild world web and you arrived here, it is most likely that you are interested in a sustainable lifestyle already. You are considered with the worlds climate situation and you are upset with the pollution in our oceans. The textile industry comes with a big package. A package containing glamorous Fashion-weeks, exciting brands, the opportunity to express our self and... being the leader in water pollution. Thinking about the harm the fast fashion industry leaves, not just on our skin's, but even worst in the environment of producing countries.
Producing / Dyeing / Processing textiles causes plenty wastewater (also with natural dyes). This wastewater ends up in natural waterways eventually.
Depending on the commitment of the textile business this wastewater might have or might have not been treated to bind the (up to) 2.000 chemical components in the water. Not even speaking of the rarity of water in most producing countries. Comparing natural dyes with commercial dyes. How can there even be such a comparison? - Simply having the demand for long lasting - colorfast - bright - sweat absorbent - stretchable textiles makes it very difficult to compare without accepting some disadvantages of natural dyes. Alone the dyeing part within the commercial textile industry includes the use of aromatic amines ( eg. benzidine, toludine). They can contain heavy metals, ammonia, alkali salts, toxic solids and large amount of pigments of which many are toxic.
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(My) Natural dyes contain a wee of chemicals and only those which are 100% not harmful for human, animal and plants. Chemicals. The word sounds already scary. But it also describes components we find in nature. All chemicals components used for my natural dyeing process are following:
- baking soda / washing soda
- vinegar acid
- alum (potassium alum)
The top two are common in our kitchens. The last is present in many everyday rituals ( cosmetics, pickling, baking powder) and is not harmful to even consume, yet I do not recommend to directly eat it. The alum is used 10% - 15% of the weight of fiber, depending on the use of the textile. It is the component making sure the natural dye will survive heavy laundry programs.
All other parts are plants. Which most I grow in our garden and preserve through the year. Either dried or frozen. I want to embrace using food waste. Which will make a great new use for untouched by-products, whose pigments can fascinate us. All plants and food waste I use are not poisonous and therefor are not dangerous for infants to be in contact with. Seeing the plants grow and going through seasons allows me to create a color pallet, which connects us with nature and its diversity. Using these natural compostable ingredients makes it possible for me to simply drain the water or use it for my garden.
We are voting with every purchase we do. Lets vote for a more sustainable future.
Surely one might say "one t-shirt more or less does't make the difference", but seeing all the new sustainable brands popping up will cause an impact. T-shirt by T-shirt the businesses who care, will be able to make an impact.