AirDye Technology Gives Fashion Industry A Greener Hue

Clothing, besides covering up our unmentionables, is one of many avenues for self-expression available to our society. We’re not all as cool as Johnny Cash, so most of us choose to express ourselves with colors, patterns, and prints. Unfortunately, our need to wear something other than black all the time is bad news for the planet.

Conventional fabric dyeing techniques involve polluting heavy metals, a huge amount of precious water and do not provide permanent coloration. AirDye technology could to change all of that. Using air instead of water, it imparts dyes permanently to a surface with 85 percent less consumed energy [PDF].

Air Dye Collage

Images via AirDye

Coloring a pound of fabric can take up to 75 gallons of water, and a single dress or pair of pants can use up to 25 gallons. Now think about all of the clothing being produced all over the world, often for low-budget retailers like Walmart and Target, and it adds up to a lot of water.

Created by Colorep, Inc., a California-based company dealing with sustainable technologies for human life, AirDye eliminates many of the toxic ingredients and wasteful practices now rampant in the textiles industry. The process uses air to blast dye pigments into fabric fibers, rather than using water to attach dyes on top of the fibers. By using air instead of water to convey dye, no hazardous waste is emitted and no water wasted.

The process also eliminates the use of boilers, screen printing machines, drying ovens, or cleaning and scouring chemicals, thereby eliminating major sources of pollution and creating safer work environments for employees of the textile industry, many of who exist in developing nations.

AirDye is already in use by brands like Patagonia, Hunter Douglas, and Julie Apple as well as renowned fashion house Costello Tagliapietra, according to EnviroGadget.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog