Waterless Dyes Can Help Save The Environment

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Between pollution and global warming, the environment is taking hard hits. Though we can’t reverse the ill effects we’ve already caused, we can take steps to prevent further damage. There are several clothing companies jumping on the earth-friendly bandwagon.

Every year, textile industries waste trillions of liters of fresh water by polluting them with chemicals. This ‘wastewater’ is often dumped into the sea spreading it throughout the globe. The textile-dyeing sector creates vibrant hues for fashionable benefit, but this also produces catastrophic chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Factories in China produce as much as 40 percent of these chemicals.

Three companies have researched a solution to this problem. The companies developed a waterless dyeing technology that will still allow us to have vibrant, colorful clothes without leaving a carbon footprint. Two companies are American, AireDye and ColorZen, and the third is Dutch, DyeCoo.

The companies didn’t work together to create it. In fact, each process is very different from each other. However, all of them have the same results. Barely any water is used and even the quantity of chemicals has drastically reduced. The dye actually dries faster using this method, so there is a decrease in energy consumption as well.

Even with all these benefits, the only way it can make a huge impact is if this technology became used throughout the entire textile industry. Many textile companies are reluctant to try this new method. Fabric has been dyed using water for centuries now. Old habits can’t be changed that easily. Also, because the technology is new, it is very expensive to install and it can only be used with specific types of fabric.

A professor at the University of Leeds explained that ColorZen has been using this type of technology for over 20 years.

Every year, China’s textile industry disposes 2.5 trillion liters of waste water into the ocean. Among these hazardous chemicals are tributyltin, pentabromodiphenyl ether, phthalates, perfluorooctane sulphonate and aniline. Many of these chemicals have actually been banned in other countries because they have been linked to cancer.

Our clothing may look beautiful but the ocean sure doesn’t. In 2010, China begin conducting the operation Green Storm, which shut down companies illegally disposing waste water.

Apparently, the textile dyeing sector isn’t the only one polluting our waters. China’s Ministry of Supervision found that water pollution accidents in all sectors of the textile industry has risen to 1,700 a year, which equates to five a day.

Though major toxic spills are important to handle right away, they aren’t anything in comparison to the hazardous substances dumped in the water on a daily basis. Some suppliers are worse than others, including Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss and Victoria’s Secret.

If more companies got on board with the waterless dyeing technology, it could make a drastic change in the environment.

DyeCoos’ technology works by using carbon dioxide. It is heated and compressed until is becomes a supercritical, the state between a gas and a liquid. As the carbon dioxide acts as a solvent and solute, color pigments are then able to penetrate into textile fibers. No chemicals or water are needed. The dyeing time is also much quicker, so energy use has reduced by 50 percent. The most beneficial aspect of the technology is that 95 percent of the carbon dioxide can be recycled and used again.

AirDye’s approach is completely different. Traditional methods meant dipping the cloth in a bath with dye and water. AirDye uses pressure and heat to transfer a special formula from paper onto polyester. The color will actually last longer on clothing using this method.

ColorZen’s method actually changes the molecular composition of cotton fibers. After treating the fabric, the dye uses 90 percent less water and 95 percent fewer chemicals.

Though it may be a while, if ever, for the entire textile industry to follow suit and adopt one of these methods, society can take steps to do their part. Instead of supporting these companies, people can buy plain clothing that doesn’t require dye. American Stitch can spruce it up by embroidering whatever designs you desire on your clothing. For more information about Las Vegas embroidery, contact 702.233.8567.

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