Indigo Dyeing

Chemicals are one of the main components of our clothes


Heavy use of chemicals causes massive freshwater and ocean pollution, as well as soil degradation, which poses great threat to global food security


Synthetic Indigo needs caustic (bleach) and hydrosulfite (a toxic substance), creating millions of gallons of waste water in the dyeing process


These are then washed away into to nature causing detrimental environmental impacts


Today, less than 30% of the World's denim Mills use "pre-reduced " indigo which is the most sustainable dyestuff on the market, which requires little to no water and eliminates the wastewater and sludge that powdered indigo creates. 


San Francisco biotech firm Tinctorium believes that the answer to synthetic indigo is genetically engineered bacteria to mirror the way the Japanese indigo plant, Polygonum Tinctorium, makes and holds its color. The microbial fermentation process can save 100 tonnes of petroleum and 10 tonnes of toxic chemicals per tonne of product. Pili's process uses about 5x less water and 10x less energy because microbes work at room temperature!


For more indigo alternatives, head to "Dyeing to Know About Sustainable Dyes? Sorry I had To."


What can you do about it? 

  • Look for natural indigo labels
  • Look for brands with water recycling capabilities
  • Look for brands that dispose of sludge in an ethical manner
  • Look for brands using efficient dyeing methods and aniline free dyes
To learn more about the indigo, read my #DiligentDenim Blog post, "The Indigo Problem" here