BUILD A WASTE-FREE WORLD – COLORIFIX
NOMINATED BY: CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF PATENT ATTORNEYS, THE MILLS FABRICA
COLORIFIX USES DNA SEQUENCING AND NATURE’S OWN COLOURS TO CREATE SUSTAINABLE DYES THAT REDUCE THE FASHION INDUSTRY’S USE OF WATER AND HARMFUL CHEMICALS.
The fashion industry not only creates waste in our landfills; it also wastes precious water and strains natural resources because of the energy-intensive process used for dyeing fabrics.
Before the 19th century, fabric dyes were derived from natural plants and crops, and colourful clothing was considered a luxury reserved only for the wealthy and privileged. After the industrial revolution brought about synthetic dyes, colourful dyed fabrics and clothing became accessible to the masses and created the modern fashion industry. However, chemically synthesised dyes have come at a significant cost as they seep into rivers, harm wildlife and use vast amounts of water resources. Fabric dyeing consumes five trillion litres of water every year, the equivalent of two million Olympic-sized swimming pools.
UK based Colorifix has an innovative solution derived from nature. Inspired by their study of water contamination in Nepal, founders Orr Yarkoni and Jim Ajioka have created an efficient fabric-dyeing process that uses the DNA codes for colours found in nature and teaches microbes to recreate them. Just as brewing beer uses the power of microorganisms to ferment wheat, Colorifix is harnessing microscopic life to make natural fabric dyes.
The process begins with Colorifix identifying a colour created naturally by an animal, plant or microbe. Then, using DNA sequencing, they identify where that colour is coded in the genetics of that organism. The DNA code is then translated into Colorifix’s own engineered microorganisms, enabling them to produce the pigment—just as it is made in nature —and transfer it to the fabric.
“Colorifix is bringing the fashion industry back to its roots and harnessing the power of the natural world to colour our clothing in a more sustainable way. We believe our solution can be transformative for the fashion industry and for ensuring the protection of our water, air and land for future generations. Thank you to The Earthshot Prize for recognising the work we do.”
Orr Yarkoni, CEO of Colorifix
Colorifix’s natural dyes cut chemical pollution by 80%, and when applied to fabrics, they require far fewer rinses than synthetic dyes, ultimately saving vast quantities of water. Already gaining traction in the fashion industry, Colorifix have ambitions to dye 15% of the world’s clothes by 2030, helping big manufacturers make good on their sustainability targets.
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