Date: 06-02-2015 Time: 00:00:00 Category:
Dying cloth is an incredibly old industry with natural ingredients from around the local area used to colour textiles from even Neolithic times. Dyes that produced deep and vibrant colours where highly prized but were often rare and expensive. More readily available dyes like woad and madder where sold on a commercial basis. While natural dyes has been used for thousands of years, the industrial revolution saw the development of the sciences and lead to the creations of the worlds first synthetic dye in 1853, albeit by the accident of 15 year old William Perkin.
Though there are lots of benefits to synthetic dyes(cost, colour fastness, ability to produce on a mass scale) they can have a devastating impac on the environment. Lots of designers and manufacturers have tried to come up with innovative solutions in recent years to find alternatives to the everyday synthetic dye.
Algaemy - crafting our future food (Blond & Bieber) from Rasa Weber design and research on Vimeo.
Although Synthetic can pollute water ways, effecting animals and plant life, we could not produce the mass items of dyed textiles with traditional natural dyes. To achieve the intensity of the colours, the amount needed for mass product, would be huge, with the industry using larger amounts of natural dyes which would effect the plants and animals used as well as their ecosystems. One alternative may be to use more unusual plants to keep up with demand. Design Studio Blond & Bieber have developed a dye from Algae. This plant is in surplus and is often blamed for a whole host of ecology problem, so harnessing its power could benefit both worlds. See a full interview with the designers here.
Another Natural alternative is to dye the fabric before it's even made. Scientists in Singapore created colourful silk by feeding the silk worm that produces it with a dye. The result was some amazingly fluorescent worms and silk cocoons. This would cut down amazingly well on water pollution from the dying process and make coloured silk less costly for the consumer as the dying process is particularly expensive.
The main issue with synthetic dyes is the excessive use of water to produce the colours. The best alternative would be to find a way of reducing the water used to a minimum and the company Dyecoo may have found a way. They have created a machine which uses little water and pressurised carbon Dioxide (C02) to colour fabric. Nike and Adidas have already got on board and are producing brands with the new technology. This could be the revolutionary change the dyeing industry needs.
For more information on the textiles and dying industry take a look at some of these links. Get in touch on Twitter and join the debate.
Clothing to dye for
Water and chemical use in the textiles dyeing and finishing industry
Textile industry hazards
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