Genelle - OCT 27 2020

Why We Don't Use Natural Dyes

This is a question we get often when we talk about being a sustainable and eco-friendly clothing company.  It's easy to assume that natural dyes are the most Earth-friendly option for hand-dyed clothes, but you might be surprised that it may not be the most sustainable option in the long run.

What Types of Dyes & Chemicals Do We Use?

Here at Akasha Sun, we have used the highest quality dyes on the market since 2013.  We knew we wanted to use the best dyes and chemicals from the very beginning so that you get the highest quality colors and longevity with our clothing.  The types of dyes we use here are Fiber Reactive Dyes.  These dyes start off as a very fine powder, and then they are mixed with specific chemicals to adhere to the fabric.  Fiber reactive dyes only adhere to natural fibers such as cotton, linen, rayon, and bamboo. 

There are also very few chemicals needed to use these dyes, which eliminates unnecessary toxins.  Once the dye process is finished, dyed clothing is washed out with a small amount of water, and then washed again in our wash machine.  A specific textile detergent is used to help set the dyes during this process.  Typically this detergent is a chemical called Synthrapol, however we have never used this because it is not eco-friendly.  Instead, we use a non-toxic alternative that works just as well, but is better for the environment.

Why are Fiber Reactive Dyes More Sustainable Than Natural Dyes?

There is a common misconception that natural dyes are better for the skin and the environment.  It's easy to make this mistake just because it really sounds like it should be better, right? 

Here are some reasons why natural dyes are not as sustainable as fiber reactive dyes:

- They aren't as permanent on clothing as synthetic dyes, and have the tendency to fade much faster.
- They are difficult to apply and usually require mordant.  Mordant helps the dye bond to the fabric, and can be very toxic.
- Some natural dyes are actually poisonous.
- Some natural dyes and mordants contain heavy metals and toxins, which over time can build up in the body causing harm.
- It can be dangerous for the person dyeing the clothing to use certain natural dyes and mordants if particles enter the lungs.
- Natural dyes require a lot more water along with a higher temperature of water.  Fiber reactive dyes do not require hot water and use a lot less water during the dyeing and washing out process.

This doesn't mean certain natural dyes or natural dye processes are 100% bad for the environment, it just means that we have done the research and concluded that fiber reactive dyes fit better with our mission of creating beautiful, sustainable tie dye clothing!