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Natural vs Synthetic Dyeing: + And -

When it comes to choosing eco friendly clothing, using natural dyes is preferable to their synthetic counterparts, right? While that may make sense intuitively, as with many environmental questions, the truth is more complicated.

TYPES OF DYEING

1. NATURAL

Many brands today are making steps to the natural ways of dyeing clothes and textiles. Natural dyes derived from plants, invertebrates, or minerals. The majority of natural dyes are vegetable dyes from plant sources—roots, berries, bark, leaves, and wood—and other biological sources such as fungi and lichens.

2. SYNTHETIC

The most common way of dyeing textiles, made with different chemical substanses - acids, azoids etc.

WHAT ARE THE + AND - OF SYNTHETIC DYES?

- Synthetic dyeing, like most other industrial processes, carries inevitable health and environmental consequences. The single most important thing we can do to minimize them is to reduce our consumption of stuff. The world’s current infatuation with cheaply made fast fashion is clearly unsustainable. Fires and a building collapse in Bangladesh sweatshop factories have brought both the human and environmental toll into sharp focus.

+ Some types of synthetic dyes, for example, fiber-reactive dyes, which are produced from petrochemicals, molecularly bond with fabric, creating colorfast, long-lasting shades. They’re used on cellulosic fabrics such as cotton, linen, hemp, rayon and Tencel. They can also be used with wool and some synthetic fibers including nylon.

Most fiber-reactive shades are classified as low-impact dyes because they meet the requirements of the Oeko-Tex Standard 100, an international textile certification program. To meet this standard, low-impact dyes cannot contain toxic substances, must have an absorption rate in which 70% or more of the dye is absorbed by the fabric and require relatively little rinse water.

WHAT ARE THE + AND - OF NATURAL DYES?

 - Natural dyes have some downsides. They tend to fade faster than synthetics, which may cause consumers to discard otherwise wearable clothes. It’s difficult to achieve a consistent color — something consumers count on. Natural dyeing requires much greater quantities of dyestuff, potentially tying up farmland otherwise used for food production. Although many mordants (dye fixatives) used in natural dyeing are household, non-toxic items, others contain contaminating heavy metal salts.

+ Natural dyes are biodegradable, non-toxic and non-allergic. They do not cause any health hazards and hence they can be used easily without many environmental concerns. The shades produced by natural dyes/colorants are usually soft, lustrous and soothing to the human eye.

 

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