Finding the Holy Grail for Fabric Dyeing

I knew from the outset that bringing even a bit of positive impact on the textile dyeing industry would never be easy. The textiles industry runs high on hyper-consumerism. Customers are ready to buy anything that comes at a cheaper price without thinking about its impact on the environment or the long-term impact on their health in many cases. Such behavior has fuelled an unprecedented number of orders for textile manufacturers in the last few decades.

Most of such textiles manufacturing and dyeing happen in developing countries in Southeast Asia like China, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam, etc. These countries mostly do not have strong environmental regulation due to which the synthetic dyes end up into the rivers, lakes, and oceans killing the aquatic life and making the water unfit for drinking. The governments in these countries often found themselves in a catch-22 situation as imposing strict regulations would mean the cost of production going up and factories would not remain price competitive meaning they will have to close and people working there would lose their jobs. On the other hand, not implementing regulations would mean environmental hazards which are very much visible in these countries. Factory workers suffer from fatal diseases, water is not fit for drinking, the local population is getting sick and many aquatic plants and animal species are either extinct or on the brink of extinction.

My quest for finding the holy grail for the dyeing industry started to solve the above problems and it took me to an exciting journey or I would call it a journey into the past of India. I was looking for alternative dyeing methods for several months. I went to various parts of India to research eco-friendly dyeing methods. Lesser did I know that there is a dyeing method that existed only in India for the past 5000 years. There is an entire branch of Ayurveda that studies the dyeing of textiles with Ayurvedic Herbs and its impact on our body.

But what was more surprising for me was the fact that the Ayurvedic dyeing method was just not 100% natural but it was also a healthy option for our body. I came to know for the first time that studies are going on in Indian colleges to understand the effects of textiles dyed in Ayurvedic herbs on our body. According to ancient Indian texts, Ayurvedic textiles can act as mood enhancers, balance aura around our body, detox our skin by increasing metabolism, and improving skin immunity.

I started for looking the eco-friendly alternative ways to dye textiles but I stumbled upon something far more amazing. It appeared to be the perfect option for the textile industry. Isn’t it? Then why is it not popular? Why isn’t other brands and manufacturers using such methods?

I found that these are still very primitive processes to dye using Ayurvedic dyes. Mostly, the bucket dyeing methods were used to dye Ayurvedic Clothes which meant it was commercially not feasible to produce Ayurvedic textiles at a larger scale. Secondly, the lack of machine-based processes was increasing the cost of production. This leads me to look for a dyeing unit that would do the Ayurvedic dyeing using modern machinery of some sort.

That is when I met Mr. Arun Baid, the man who had studied Ayurvedic dyeing for more than 10 years and written research papers. He was the solution to the problem of ‘scaling’ the production.

We worked together to develop the right Ayurvedic dyes that would meet our standards and requirements. After more than 2 years of research, we were now confident to test our products. I will share more about how we tested our products and improved based on the feedback in my next article.

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