The other day I read an interesting article in The Guardian sustainable business section. It is about the impact that natural vs. synthetic dyes have on the environment. The article focused on the situation in India where many of the countries waterways are polluted by residuals from the dying process. Several interesting points are raised:
1) Natural Dyes are much more ecological and non contaminating but require the use of more land and more water
2) Natural Dyes are more expensive
3) Natural Dyes are not easily applied in large quantities
4) The selection of colors and vibrant tones that can be achieved with synthetic dyes are still not possible with natural dyes
5) Color fastening is still and issue and often requires the use of chemicals to fix natural dyes
Are these trade offs worth it? Should we move to only using natural dyes?
Natural dyes are a premium product and can be used for luxury quality products. However, they is still not a good solution for applying natural dyes to mass market products at a popular price point. The article raises the question of whether the answer lies in a mix of the two ( natural & synthetic) and if so which mix is appropriate. Could that be the answer? Perhaps.
The article concludes with this statement and quote around the real issue we should be thinking about:
"...Ultimately, the problem hinges on a larger issue. “The world has gone consumption-mad,” Patterson says. “As a result there are enormous amounts of textiles produced.” He argues that consuming less is the only way to make an impact in the long run. "
The only way to reduce the problem is to reduce the level of consumtion. Buy less but buy better. Now that is something I can completely stand behind.
if you are interested to read the full article you can do so here