THE TRUE COST OF COLOR
Textile dyeing is the 2nd largest polluter of water in the world.
When we buy clothes, color is one of the first things we notice. But have you ever thought about how it’s made? What is actually in your clothes?
The Dangers of Synthetic Chemicals
More than 8,000 synthetic dyes are used in the production of clothes. Many derived from fossil fuels.
Not only do they pose health hazards to the communities making our clothes, most of these chemicals end up in our bodies through our waters and by wearing it.
What are these chemicals?
AZO dyes. These make up 60-80% of all fabric colorants. They are both carcinogenic and mutagenic (meaning they disrupt the DNA in our cells)and continue to release chemicals when the fabric is worn.
Chlorobenzene. Toxic by inhalation or on skin contact,this chemical is widely used in the dyeing of polyester,which makes up half of all clothes today.
Formaldehydes and chlorinated paraffins. These perfluorinated chemicals are used in finishing process in order to create special effects such as waterproofing or ‘easy-iron’.
Once they enter our waterways, these coloring agents cause oxygen deficiencies that kill aquatic life - while resisting biodegradation. That means, the environmental impact of a synthetically dyed shirt can last in our ecosystem for decades. Way longer after you’re done wearing it.
Up to 90% of waste water is never treated - Forbes, 2020
How come it’s that bad?
Up to 90% of waste water is never treated. (Forbes, 2020)
Without strong regulation and customer awareness, textile waste water is commonly dumped directly into rivers. The discharge is often a cocktail of carcinogenic chemicals, dyes, salts and heavy metals that not only hurt the environment, but pollute our drinking and irrigation water.
And they’re making their way back to us.
The impact of these chemicals don’t just disrupt the environment, they continue to accumulate in our bodies every time we wear it. Studies have found these chemicals in our blood, urine, fatty tissue, bone, sperm and breast milk.
We have been wearing carcinogens, neurotoxins, and endocrine disruptors (EDTs) on the biggest organ on our body. Continually impacting our health and well being in ways that are still not well understood.
Thing is, it’s a reality that’s not only happening in large factories. The problem also gets outsourced to villages - where up to 60% of clothes are made. Women who have to use chemical dyes from their kitchen. Without any protective equipment or means to filter the toxic waste from the river her family live from.
This is exactly why we invest so much time in natural dye research and training. To protect our Ibus and our only Planet - but also you and me.
MEET OUR NATURAL DYES
Introducing our plant dyes
that regenerate ecosystems, empower farmers,
and reverse climate change.
Natural dyeing with plants is one of the most sustainable dyeing methods out there. Less than 200 years ago, the whole world was wearing clothes that were botanically dyed. Think about it for a second: that means that during our great grandparents' time, literally each color came from plants that grew in their surroundings.
A time-honored craft that was lost, for the sake of industrialization and fast fashion.
Almost all our #MadeRight hues, from blue, yellow, red and black, come from 4 plants: Indigo leaves, Golden Terminalia fruits, Mahogany and Sappan wood. From farm to closet, we work directly with farming cooperatives in rural Indonesia to revitalize these indigenous plants and dye traditions. So you know exactly where, why and how your clothes are made.
Our blues come from the Strobilanthes Cusia and Indigofera Tinctoria leaves. Fermented in mountain spring water for 48 hours, the Indicants are then reduced with sugar before it can be used to dye. Every 3 months, our farmer partners receive free seedlings to grow their Indigo in an agroforest.
A Midnight shirt needs 20kgs of leaves to dye. From light blue that gets darker with each dyeing, taking our Ibus 27x to dye.
Our ochres are dyed with leftover Mahogany woods from the furniture industry. Our Ibus use only the outer barks that are often thrown away. Boiling them overnight before dyeing the fabric in vat the next day. Darker shades take her 12x to dye.
Our farmer-level #MadeRight certification ensures no deforestation is caused from our materials.
Our reds come from the indigenous Javanese Sappan wood. We first learnt of this wood from our communities, who boil it for a herbal drink. Its deep Burgundy hue inspired us to research more on how we can use it to dye clothes, as Morinda roots traditionally used for reds are rarely found in Java.
From the most delicate Sakura pink to the deepest Garnet burgundy, our Ibus use her ancestors’ knowledge to dye your favorite #MadeRight piece.
Golden Terminalia Fruit
Meet the sacred Terminalia Tree. No one in the village dares to climb or cut it. Every year, after the rainy season, the fruits fall down to the ground. It is the only time our Ibus can come and forage it from the Earth. She then dries it under the sun and boils it whenever we need to dye yellow.
Creating clothes that follow the rhythm of the Earth - and not the other way around. This is what goes on behind your #MadeRight piece.
ARE ALL NATURAL DYES SUSTAINABLE?
The quick answer is no.
Firstly, while the dye source may be natural, the process through which the plants are processed may be using chemicals. An example of this is the use of chemical mordant or Hydrogen Sulfite for Indigo.
That’s why it’s important to ensure your clothes are colored with natural dye with natural process. We use Javanese coconut sugar for our Indigo, waste banana stems for pinks, and Symplocos leaves for reds.
Secondly, irresponsible sourcing can lead to deforestation and devastation of diverse ecosystems. Fashion’s supply chain is notoriously complex and opaque. Most brands only have transparency on who stitched it, not who made the fabric and farm-level traceability.
That’s why we work directly with farmers in villages across Indonesia. Our Zero Harm certification ensures that the plant dyes we use are either grown ourselves through regenerative farming or collected agricultural waste.
This is the power of your #MadeRight choice. Ensuring that what we wear doesn’t just do less harm - but actually create a positive impact on the planet and people.
100% NATURE, 0% TOXIC