Textile Dyes and What You Need to Know

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We receive phone calls from customers on a regular basis asking about the dyes we use in our fabrics, so in this week’s blog, I would like to talk about the fabric dying method we use and why.  

The way we dye our fabrics is different from the conventional textile industry. 

As a GOTS (Global Organic Textile) certified company, we only use low-impact dyes, which is a classified eco-friendly dye that contains no heavy metals or toxins. GOTS has the strictest regulations in our industry when it comes to the types of dyes we can and cannot use.  

In order to meet the GOTS guidelines, not only do the dyes need to be toxic free, but they must also meet the environmental standards as well. 

Here are some reasons why low impact dying is better than the conventional dye process:

  • Uses a three-phase (reverse-osmosis) water filtration system to clean the water which means that 90% of the water used in the dyeing stages can be reused. 
  • The entire process normally occurs at a PH of around 7.0, meaning no acids or alkalis need to be added to the water
  • AZO dyes and Disperse dyes including Disperse Blue 106 are prohibited.  
  • There are no harmful inks, dyes or chemicals residing in the fiber of the garment. 
  • They contain no heavy metals or other known toxic substances.  
  • Mordants cannot be used.  Mordants are used to fix the color in dyeing or fabric printing and is toxic. 
  • Uses lower dye temperatures which allows 95% of the dye to adhere to the garment. 

This results in only 5% waste compared to the industry standard of 50%. 

  • The high absorption rate in the fabric accounts for 60% less water than conventional dying process. 
  • Everything used in producing the colored fabric is biodegradable. 

 The elimination of toxic chemicals and the reduction of water consumption and contamination are the key to safe and responsible textile dyeing and as a sustainable company, we want to make sure we safeguard the environment as we produce our products.  

The dyeing process involves a lot of water.  As the third largest industry in the world, the textile industry contributes to about 20% of the worlds water pollution. Not all countries have regulations to clean and re-use the water in the factory. Even if they do have regulations, there is still illegal dye dumping going on. Dye factories across the world are dumping millions of tons of dye chemicals into rivers and waterways making rivers lifeless and turned into sludge.  

 

To the contrary,  many conventional clothing companies OPT OUT when it comes to nontoxic and responsible dying methods and go for SYNTHETIC DYES instead. Simply because they are cheap and easy to apply.  Synthetic dyes actually come from cracking crude oil and the specific colors, attributes, and ranges come from chemicals derived from petroleum products. It is estimated that there are 8,000 synthetic chemicals used to bleach, treat, and brighten clothes. 

The apparel industry uses 43 million tons of chemicals every year. 

So why are synthetic dyes so TERRIBLE? 

For one, synthetic dyes can wreak havoc on our health and the workers who are exposed to the toxic chemicals while applying and working with the dye stuff. 

Heavy metals found in dyes can cause nervous system damage, kidney damage, and/or be carcinogenic, depending on the heavy metal. 
 
AZO dyes are the most talked about synthetic dye, and are most commonly used in fabric dying, but are also dangerous, toxic and known to be carcinogenic. So why do people use it?  The majority of azo dyes are water soluble which make it easy for the cotton to absorb the dye.  They don’t dissipate but evaporate into the air we breathe or are absorbed through our skin causing allergic reactions, skin irritation, and rashes. There are also many other classes of synthetic dyes that are used in textile dyeing and are also known to be carcinogenic, causing diseases such as kidney, bladder and live cancer. 

A CNN report revealed that young babies and children actually do have increases levels of chemical in their bloodstream and skin because clothing comes into prolonged contact with one’s skin, toxic chemicals are often absorbed into the skin, especially when one’s body is warm and skin pores have opened to allow perspiration. 

Not only are these toxic dyes causing health issues, they are also destroying our environment by releasing toxic chemicals into our ground water, killing wildlife and causing long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment. 

 

By seeking out sustainable brands that use low-impact dyes, you are choosing healthier clothes for your baby and making a conscious decision to not support companies that contribute to our world water pollution problem. 

 

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