Chemicals are one of the main components of our clothes, but have gotten a terrible rap over the years. When chemcials are used properly and safely, they can have some serious benefits.
However, heavy use of chemicals causes massive freshwater and ocean pollution, as well as soil degradation, which poses great threat to global food security.
The real problem with modern day indigo dyeing is the process of dyeing with synthetic Indigo. Synthetic Indigo requires caustic (bleach) and hydrosulfite (a toxic substance), which creates millions of gallons of waste water globally in the dyeing process.
These are then washed away into to nature causing detrimental environmental impacts.
Today, only 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.
Buy brands that are disposing of waste in a humane manner such as turning old sludge into bricks that can be used for homes or using water filtration systems that allow them to recycle the water.
Buy brands that have clean energy running their production facility.
Director of Simply Suzette