the irresistible fleet of bicycles

growing true blue indigo dye in a closed loop system

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As part of their True Blue project, Fibershed, have recently released a report on the processes and practices involved in the making of blue indigo dye.  They explain the idea of a closed-loop ideal indigo dye production system which “moves from soil to dye to textiles and back to soil.” The basis for the report is multifaceted, including academic literature reviews, books on natural dyeing and personal interviews with skilled artisan dyers including  Rowland Ricketts, Jane Palmer, and Kori Hargreaves.

There is a huge need for sustainable and natural dyeing processes to be developed and encouraged. World Bank figures suggest that textile dyeing and treatment are responsible for up to 20% of industrial water pollution. In the Indian town of Tirupur, where cotton growing has largely disappeared due to cheaper imports from China and Bangladesh, textile dyeing and water farming are booming. The situation is far from ideal however as the area is running out of water fast and what is left is being snached up by the textile industries whose toxic output has poisoned the land and water for miles around. Of the 72 toxic chemicals found in our water supply as a direct result of the textile dyeing industry, 30 of them will remain in the water cycle forever.

Fibershed’s work with indigo dye shows us an inspiring example of how we can solve the problems that we collectively face while creating wonderful opportunities in local employment, fostering sustainability, and honouring time honoured cultural practices.

To read the first installment of Fibershed’s report click HERE

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