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Why Natural Dyes?

Four compelling reasons to choose natural dyes over conventional chemical alternatives

Why Natural Dyes?
Photo: Michelle Montgomery

Growing, harvesting and preparing dye plants builds healthy soil in our ecosystem and connects us to the clothes we wear every day. Natural dye artisans work hard to cultivate plants in a regenerative manner, one that is less harmful to our planet. By supporting local and artisanal products dyed with natural dyes, you also support clean ecosystems, a safe, non-toxic environment and a deeper connection to nature. Read on to learn more about how you can vote with your dollar.

Why Natural Dyes?

Artisanal + Local

Residuals from the textile manufacturing and dyeing process are of the most toxic industrial products that filter into our oceans. Mass production output is more than our earth can handle. The clothes we consume require tons of water that cannot be recycled into the earth, thus resulting in ocean and waterway contamination. Choosing to purchase clothing colored with natural dyes is a positive solution to the challenge of toxic runoff. In most cases, water from a natural dye vat can be neutralized with natural white vinegar, which is safe to pour down the drain or into a garden. By supporting local and artisanal products dyed with natural dyes, we also support a clean Earth.

Plants Produce No Waste

Using plants that grow abundantly in our own ecosystem bypasses the entire production process it takes to make synthetic dyes. This helps to save water and omit unnecessary pollutants. In addition to avoiding large-scale production, if we choose to rally behind natural dyes, we also stand in support of product that can be cycled back to the earth.

Safe and Non-Toxic

Natural dyes along with food grade mordants such as pickling alum or sea salt are non-toxic to work with (not for ingestion). One can confidently simmer down dye plants into a tea without fear of inhaling toxins (not to say one should!) Anything in large quantity can be harmful, but respectively, dye plants come from the earth and can be handled and processed without fear of contamination.

Connecting to Nature 

One of the most remarkable aspects of working with natural dyes is the enlightening experience one receives from direct connection with nature. Through the experience of growing, harvesting, chopping plants and preparing a dye vat, we build a much deeper appreciation for where color comes from. When we invest time and energy into the process, we receive on the other end, gaining a more profound respect for our interconnectedness with the planet.