Is the art of natural dyeing really dying?

Is the art of natural dyeing really dying?

I was reading about how mankind has always tried to put colors in their lives. Thousands of years back they used natural dyes derived from natural resources, including animals and plants.

These dyes were used to color the garments. Some of the natural dyes mentioned were Tyrian purple, cochineal red, madder red, and indigo blue. I learned that Tyrian purple is derived from mollusks and some other sea snails, cochineal red is derived from cactus insects, and dyes derived from plants are generally cheaper than animal dyes.

The common plant dyes are madder red and indigo blue. The former is derived from 35 species of plants found in Europe and Asia, and the latter from a shrub-like plant. It's amazing to know that the world has been using natural dyes from centuries, and the earliest traces were found in China. Later, colored pigments were found in Egypt. India's knowledge and expertise in natural dyes has been historical, and there is reference of natural dyes in Vedas. It was interesting to know that India had a virtual monopoly in the production of dyed painted and printed textile.

I also came across the fact that some of the natural dyes are quite expensive and considered to be a luxury. This is because of the difficulty in producing the dye, for instance, 8500 mollusks are required to produce one gram of purple natural dye. However, in the 19th century, synthetic dyes entered the market, and things started changing drastically. In 1856, William Henry Perkin first discovered the purple synthetic dye, and the natural dyes were no more a priority. The synthetic dyes gradually became very popular, and they could provide a wide range of colors. Aniline (extracted from coal tar) dyes entered the market in a big way, leading to an era of fashion characterized by chromatic vibrancy and variety. But today, we need to be close to nature and preserve it.

Global warming is a big challenge, and weather pattern changes all over the world are frightening. The global community is concerned over the discharge of synthetic dyes into the environment, and we need to focus on remediation of these pollutants. While synthetic dyes have revolutionized the garment industry all over the world, there are certain disadvantages/hazards of these dyes. They are cheap but have devastating effects on laborers in the industry. They contain toxic substances that can cause skin problems, including allergies, which is a concern for human beings, especially children. Some of these dyes, especially petroleum-based synthetic dyes, are very hazardous for the sea and rivers, and the animals die because of the pollution.

It's time to contribute to the preservation of the environment and the earth by switching over to natural dyes. This may not be a solution to address the whole issue, which is quite big and complex. However, there is no doubt that we will be contributing meaningfully and to a good extent in addressing the problem. Natural dyes help preserve the environment and are completely biodegradable. Some natural dyes need certain dye fixatives called mordants, which help in achieving different tones with the same extract, making natural dyes special. Natural dyes do not contain chemical additives or toxic substances. Due to the above reasons, the number of people switching over to natural dyes is rising every day. It's time to switch over to natural dyes and save the nature, which is good for the future.

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