How natural dyes can solve more than your skin problems
by Dandrew Benintendi
You've probably wondered how textiles were dyed in the past but probably felt too embarrassed to ask. The fact that we accept that the clothes we wear every day are full of plastics and chemicals is quite sad. We often associate their colors with something unnatural. But it wasn’t always like this.
What is natural dye?
Textile dyeing actually dates back to the Neolithic period where various colors were derived from plants, wood, berries and even insects. Simply put, a is a coloring product of nature. They are coloring materials produced from raw, natural resources like plants, earth, animals and even fruits. These dyes require no chemical alterations and are used to add color to clothes, threads etc. What sets them apart is the fact that they are rid of harsh chemicals and therefore do not pose any threats to the environment during the dying process.
Among natural dyes, indigo is often hailed as the cream of the crop. Not only for its dazzling blue hues but also for its medicinal properties. It was used in ancient Egypt for mummification rituals and was hailed in India for centuries. But it was in Japan during the Edo period (1600-1868) when it really rose to prominence, coining the term "Japan Blue".
More than just a skin-soother
Okay okay, we know you've read the headline. You didn't click on this article to read more about how awesome natural dyes –natural indigo in particular – are for your skin. Having read our previous articles (such as ), you already know that.
So let's to get to the point. The textile industry produces over a million tons of synthetic dyes a year and this process require an . The colorants used contain heavy metals (titanium oxide and chromate to name but a few) that have severe effects on the environment. Wastewater from textile plants is classified as the most polluting of all industrial sectors, especially as synthetic dyes often resist biodegradation. In countries such as India and Bangladesh, where many textile factories are located, rivers often take the color of the latest fashion fads.
Change is near
Organizations such as Greenpeace have long warned of the environmental havoc synthetic dye is wreaking. Their challenges top brands to work closely with their suppliers to eliminate all hazardous chemicals across the entire supply chain. See the link below for a list of some of the nasty substances Greenpeace is trying to save our environment from (viewer discretion advised!).
As we slowly start to open our eyes to the catastrophic effects synthetic dyes have on our planet, various movements are shaping up and people are looking for alternatives. For example, . However, dyes are barely mentioned. The rare exception are small series from conscious brand like , and specialty brands like jeans or .
What you can do
If you're fine polluting yourself and the environment with dozens of chemical substances they never taught you about in chemistry class, do nothing. keep buying the same clothes and bedding you're probably already using, and the plastics will take care of the rest. But if you feel that it's time for a change, go organic. Look for labels such as and (which means they are using significantly better processes), and brands using natural dyes. Think of it as if you're shopping for food. How often do you scour the clothing store for organic options or check their "list of ingredients"?
And while you're at it, you might want to assure that the place you spend one third of your life is "secured". Your bed. is part of a new frontier of green companies that are taking this issue seriously. Our luxury organic bedding is made of natural indigo and organic cotton, showering Mother Nature with goodness.
To purchase a set of Aizome bed linen, click the button below.