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The Booming Textile Dyeing Industry, is it Worth the Cost?

Updated on April 14, 2016
Dye brings life to fabric
Dye brings life to fabric | Source

The Expansion of Textile Dyeing Industry

Since William Henry Perkins accidentally discovered mauve or mauveine in the year eighteen fifty-six, it has revolutionized the fashion industry of textile dying, and many developing countries has incorporated the dyeing process into their business instead of buying new fabric, because it has low labor cost which makes it inexpensive. What may already be considered as colorful and beautiful was given a new life by enhancing and reviving the fabric, regardless what type of materials it was made of. More than adding color to everyday things, the use of textile dyes is also appreciated by many industries in order to minimize overhead costs and utilize existing business materials.The main attraction of any fabric is color, and this has given a great potential in the world of textile dyes.

Throughout times, the textile dyeing industry has largely contributed to the country's economy and those of other developing countries. With more and more people getting into fashion and almost everyone are increasingly getting conscious about the way they look and dress, a lot wants to leave an impression through fashionable and colorful clothes. For some countries, the abundance of natural resources and vast land allowed them to continuously use natural dyes, but when it comes to doing large quantities of fabric, synthetic dye may come in handy and more efficient.

Organic Textile Dyeing

Dyeing process
Dyeing process | Source

Pollution and Water Consumption Issue

There is no denying that the textile dyeing industry is booming, but the sad fact is that the industry had already caused the environment more harm than good. Coloring the fabrics that we wear is like a sweet poison that is killing the earth slowly.The biggest impact that the industry has is the pollution on the planet's body of water, the textile industry is considered one of the biggest pollutant in the world. The use of synthetic dyes has an adverse effect on all forms of life due to its highly toxic content, including heavy metals, sulfur, ammonia and well known carcinogen - chlorine. These large amounts of toxins threatens aquatic plants and animals and also on human health. In fact, based on the estimates from the World Bank, almost 20% of global industrial water pollution comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles.

In addition, aside from the pollution that the textile industry brings, the process of dyeing also requires enormous amount of earth’s most precious resources – water. According to estimates, for every 1 kg of textile being processed, around 100 to 150 litres of water is consumed, this is depending on the type of fabric and dye that will be used. As the demand for these colorful textile increases, the need for large quantities of water also increases which will eventually result in scarcity of water in the coming years, and this will in turn present an awful problem in the near future.

Natural Vs. Synthetic Dyes

Which do you prefer, natural or synthetic dye?

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waste water pollution from textile dyeing
waste water pollution from textile dyeing

Sustainable Solutions From Dye Manufacturers

While market demand for water-intensive business is expected to grow, there is a need to consider its major effects on the environment. Manufacturers are now starting to find sustainable solutions to this emerging problem, by minimizing the use of harmful chemicals in their products. Some of these manufacturers are producing dyes that have environment-friendly ingredients and some are treating it with organic bacteria to lessen the impact of pollution, some of these eco-friendly dyes includes biodegradable dyes, azo-free colorants, and fiber reactive dyes.

This action was a result of an attempt to save the precious resource, people have been finding ways to reduce, if not eliminate the pollution brought about by textile dyeing. Manufactures have found some ways, and is continuously finding ways to trim down the massive amounts of chemicals that is being spread into rivers and sea through the waste waters from the industry. After all, we cannot afford to color the world with variety of color but leave our rivers and seas black.


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    • Nicole Young 07 profile image

      Nicole Young 07 19 months ago from Chicago Illinois

      I once read that nike and other famous brand are have now developed ways to dye fabrics without using water. I hope that it will be another breakthrough in reducing pollution

    • Discordzrocks profile image

      Gavin Heinz 19 months ago from Austin TX

      or, maybe spray paint can be the art of the future. Interesting

    • Nicole Young 07 profile image

      Nicole Young 07 19 months ago from Chicago Illinois

      Hello Discordrock,

      I appreciate your opinion, not everyone likes dye due to its side effect to the environment, however, I don't want to see just black and white around me, I love colors, but this sweet colors are slowly killing mother nature. I think that the move of dye manufacturers to develop a product that is more eco-friendly so we can eliminate the pollution brought about by dyeing.

    • Discordzrocks profile image

      Gavin Heinz 19 months ago from Austin TX

      I dont like either dye. Just get out a marker and color a bit (worst answer ever).