Local Colour

Local Dyes

For most of human history we have relied on nature for our colours. Rocks, insects, and many plants provided us with the colour for our clothing, paints, and anything else that we used.

Natural colour, like soil, have given our clothing and textiles a regional palette that helps identify us. Bright colours were rare and valuable resources saved for special occasions. Many plants, nuts, trees, berries, roots, and insects were utilized to get specific colours. these recipies were handed down from generations to generation.

It has only been the last 150 years or so that synthetic dyes have been used. Despite this short period of time, synthetic dyes have completely taken over the colour industry.

Although they do provide bright, vibrant colours there is an unseen darkness that lurks behind the veil of colours we use in our our lives. All synthetic dyes contain heavy metals, chemical, and plastics. These all end up in the environment in some form or another.

Our water, soil, and air are all impacted by the textile industry. One of the worst offenders is the synthetic indigo industry or blue-jean colouring.

Indigo dye discharged into the Pearl River. PHOTO CREDIT: djcadchina.wordpress.comIndigo dye discharged into the Pearl River. PHOTO CREDIT: djcadchina.wordpress.com


By using our local colours we can help regain our regional colour palette. New colour farmers can provide us with some of the plants and flowers that are needed to obtain some of the most sought after colours. Flowers in particular are beneficial as they also provide food for pollinators.


Other resources:

Staying Alive: Making textiles Sustainable

Textile Industry Poses Environmental Hazards

Clean by Design



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