To Dye For: New sustainable ways of dyeing and printing fabric

Without dyeing, fabric really wouldn’t be all that exciting. Prints and colors are often what set different fabrics apart. However, the dyeing process of textiles is one of the most polluting processes and the textile industry is though to be one of the biggest consumers of water (2). Heavy metals and other compounds are added to water baths to help man made fibers more effectively absorb dyes, which pollutes fresh water with its runoff. It is estimated that it can take from seven to 75 gallons of water per pound of fabric to color just one piece of fabric (1). However, new technology has emerged that allows man-made fibers to be died without the use of water.

AirDye “uses no water at the point of coloration, it requires up to 70% less energy and produces no hazardous by-products. By eliminating water, AirDye technology would save trillions of gallons, the amount currently used to treat and color all man-made textiles… the process reduces national water pollution by 91% (1).” This technology also allows fabrics to be printed differently on either side of the fabric, for example a print on one side of the fabric and a solid color on the other. Companies such as A Lot To Say, Miss Peaches, JulieApple, and a variety of fabric manufacturers use AirDye (1).

Another waterless option for dying textiles it through a technology created by DyeCoo Textile Systems, which manufactures machines that use carbon dioxide to dye textiles. In one waterless process, it takes care of scouring, dyeing, rinsing, drying, and removing the excess dye. They also claim the dyeing process “considerably lower operational costs compared to the conventional dyeing processes (2).”

Currently these water free dying processes are only suitable for man made fibers, but much research is currently being conducted to create more eco-friendly ways of creating and dying fabric. I encourage designers and anyone in the fashion industry to do some research and encourage the use of eco-friendly practices whenever possible.

By Nicole Hom

References:

  1. AirDye. (n.d.). Airdye | eco clothing | green clothing | eco fabric | eco-friendly dyeing technology. Retrieved from http://www.airdye.com/
  2. DyeCoo. DyeCoo textile systems. Retrieved from http://www.dyecoo.com/
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