DIY Clothing Dyes

Why do we need organic healthy dyes?

Organic healthy dyes will increase the environments sustainability and limit the amount of health problems and food shortages caused all over the world from the massive dye companies the fashion industry currently uses in order for any population to obtain the latest new trend.

What is a dye garden?

A dye garden is an amazing natural way to not only spruce up the variety of color in your garden but to dye your clothing various colors without harming the environment or the consumer. Clothing we buy at retail stores usually use harsh coloring technique that is very harmful for not only our environments but for our bodies as well.

What plants to use for dying ?

Native plants have been used for centuries to bring color to every aspect of a person’s life. Such as the ones below:

  • Alder bark ( brown, red-brown, orange-red)
    Found in the west coast of North America, as well as British Columbia and Europe
  • Blood root ( red )
    Can grow in our own garden
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  • Algae ( green)
    Grows any place that produces enough sunlight, carbon dioxide, minerals and has sufficient water supply.
  • Lichens ( yellow )
    Grows on bark, leaves, mosses, usually found in rain forests and temperate woodland.
  • Butternut bark ( brown ) butternut roots ( black ) in
    Southern Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick
  • TinctoriaBlack walnut ( brownish/black dye)
  • Cochineal ( Dark red ) in Tropical and subtropical South America, Mexico, and Arizona
  • Cutch (orangey -brown )Grows well in open areas
    Fustic ( yellow )
  • Indigofera ( Blue )Can grow, provided sunlight, some shelter and lots of soil; Indoor plant
  • Laccifer ( red and pink )Burma, India and Thailand, Lac is collected from the plants.
  • Logwood ( dark purple and greys )Yocatan coast
  • Madder ( oranges and reds )Pakistan
  • Osage orange ( yellow and yellow-green )Can be grown
  • Myrobalan ( brownish yellow )Can be grown
  • Myrobalan and Indigofera ( Teal )
  • Fruits and herbs like  St.Johns Wart, Red Cabbage, Beets, Blackberries

Advantages of natural dyes

  • High diversity of rich and complex natural dye colours
  • Different colours go well together and rarely clash
  • Beauty of the results when using natural dyes
  • Excitement of unexpected results
  • Satisfaction of growing your own dye plants
  • Self-sufficiency if growing your own plants for plant dyes
  • Not dependent on non-renewable materials
  • Allow for endless experimentation
  • Allow the replication of ancient techniques
  • Mature with age exposed to sunlight & normal use,
  • Developing a patina as colours mellow
  • Aromatic smell when simmering the plants.

Natural based dyes vs. synthetic based dyes

Natural dyes have endless possibilities on the variations of colour you are able to create. Growing your own garden (inside or outdoors) is a great way to start collecting tools for this project!

Natural dyes are biodegradable with virtually no or mild reactions involved in their preparation and application on fabric, hence they are harmonized with nature.  Natural dyes are also cost effective. It is possible to obtain a full range of colours using various mordants from plant sources. And the hues are endless of natural eco-friendly alternatives to create unharmful dyes as listed above that we should be promoting as hard as humanly possible to start the end of all these harsh chemical dye companies around the world and substitute them with natural dye based companies instead!

The production of synthetic dye involves an exhaustive chemical process that include harmful toxins.  Toxins including: Dioxin, chrome, copper, zinc, formaldehyde. Dye production is not closed loop so waste needs to be disposed. In 2003, a Rhode island factory caught fire and the damage released large excessive amounts of dye chemicals that spilled into the Blackstone river. The dye industries workers are also at a higher risk of, tumors, cancer, cerebrovascular disease, lung disease, and many more health issues which could cost their live’s all just by colouring the clothes for us to have the most up-to-date fashion of the season.

These companies are dumping their dye water and sludge into the the rivers and large bodies of water which is causing even more issues for our environment like all the fish dying in the water that is already extremely polluted water. According to, Mexico’s rivers and fields are turning a shade of dark blue from all the untreated, unregulated dye effluent being dumped straight into the environment from companies like Levis and Gap.

So give the dye tutorial video above a try and color those old T-shirts with a new shade for summer!

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