By Bella Webb, VOGUE Business
Textile dye has a lot of work to do to overcome its polluting history, but innovators have hit a crossroads: are natural dyes or efficient synthetics a better way forward? Fashion needs to reconsider its relationship with colour if it wants to be truly sustainable. Brilliant white and neons are difficult to achieve with natural dyes, dark colours like black are challenging, and synthetic dyes still hold the crown for colour fastness and durability.
That’s the view of Noyon Lanka — a joint venture between French lace maker Noyon Calais and MAS Holdings, the largest apparel tech company in South Asia.
Manufacturing giants have attempted to clean up their act, developing new alternatives to synthetic dyes, hoping to cut pollution, energy consumption and water use. Startups are exploring bacterial dyes, using food waste, algae and even mycelium pigments. Smaller players have been pushing for change too, taking more artisanal approaches, generally focused on natural dyes and small-batch dyeing. No solution is without caveats or compromises, however, and natural dyes are often no better than synthetic ones overall.
Conventional dyeing has wide-ranging consequences. “Synthetic dyes are often made from petrochemicals, which are non-renewable and not biodegradable,” explains sustainability consultant Philippa Grogan of Eco-Age. “Working with these dyes can have impacts on human health from skin conditions to cancer. They also tend to use a lot of water, and heat to keep the water hot. When the wastewater is put back into the environment, it can block the sun in aquatic environments, so plants can’t photosynthesis, and the food chain is disrupted.”
Read more https://www.voguebusiness.com/sustainability/want-neon-bright-clothes-the-planet-has-to-pay-for-it