Low-Impact Fiber-Reactive Dyes
The sustainability of our environment is crucial in saving the livelihood of the people and the planet. Since we are all interdependent, we will all have to do our part in sustaining our environment for the future. We should always be questioning and doing more about it rather than just talking or ignoring the facts. Most of us do not realize the excessive use of resources we have taken advantage of over the years. Generations past have exploited our planet which has resulted much to the endangered state it is in today. The resources on Earth are finite and they will become extinct whenever the maximum limits are reached. Moreover, not only are we using natural resources to benefit our own needs; after we use them, we often return them back to the earth under worse conditions, in turn progressively threatening the environment. Personally, being a part of the fashion program, I have learned that the textile industry is one of the largest contributors to the negative impacts on the environment. Part of it is the processes of textile dyeing. According to Green Choices, “Dyeing alone can account for most of the water used in producing a garment; unfixed dye then often washes out of garments, and can end up coloring the rivers, as treatment plants fail to remove them from the water. Dye fixatives – often heavy metals – also end up in sewers and then rivers” (Environmental Impacts). Conventional dyeing leaves one of the biggest water footprints on the planet. It causes a huge problem in terms of water use and pollution, not to mention the risks of human health. Usually, toxic chemicals (including dioxin, toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde, etc.) are contained within the dye fixative that is used to bond the dye color to the fabric. The last stage of the dyeing process is to remove the excess dye color from the fabric. It requires an enormous amount of water equivalent the weight of the fabric to actually flush out all of the toxic chemicals. Then, this wastewater needs to be treated (removing all the heavy metals and other toxic chemicals) before discharging it into our environment. Otherwise, the ecosystem under water is going to be contaminated. Unfortunately, there are not many dyeing factories that even follow these necessary steps. In addition, considering the human health aspect, people who are directly or indirectly making contact to those chemicals (in this dyeing process or throughout the clothes they wear), will have the consequence of being exposed. We must be the change and stop harming the planet that sustains us. There is always an alternative method of dyeing in the fashion industry that can be used instead of traditional dyeing methods. The one that I found most sufficient is called the “low-impact fiber-reactive dyeing”. It was first being used in 1956. Based on Organic Lifestyle, fiber-reactive is low-impact synthetic dye that chemically bonds directly to the garment’s fiber molecules rather than merely remaining as an independent chemical entity within the fiber and requires less rinsing (What is Fiber-reactive dye?). Low-impact means it has less to do with our environment (less water and energy consumption, less wastewater runoff than the typical conventional dyeing processes). Also, low-impact dye has to meet the criteria of the Oeko-Tex Standard 100, an international textile certification program, meaning it must contain no toxic chemicals or mordants (dye fixatives in conventional dyes) and must have a high absorption rate in the fabric (above 70%). This dyeing method is tremendously advanced and less harmful to our environment. It is less likely to poison our water sources compared to other conventional dyes. The process of low-impact fiber-reactive dye produces “less” in everything so it should be preferred and used more commonly. With the high rate of absorption, at least 70%, it only requires a fair amount of water for washing out unattached dye; therefore creating less...
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