Whether it’s bold, subtle, or simply brings joy to the eye, color is often what first inspires you to choose a new addition to your wardrobe. Whether you’re into vibrant hues or muted pastels, knowing how clothes get their colors and how to navigate finding items made with non-toxic dyes and minimize environmental harm is one building block to shopping sustainably.
How Clothes Get Their Color
Did you know, though, that most dying processes involve an amount of water that is equivalent to several times the weight of the fabric being dyed? They also often require temperatures of 100 degrees Celsius or more, and nearly half the chemicals and dyes used run off into wastewater, which can pollute local water supplies. No surprise here, but some of the most common textile dyes used on a large scale are also the worst offenders. And, unfortunately, even the dying facilities that treat their wastewater can struggle to remove all dyes, chemicals, and microfibers that wash out in the process.
The Cori Wrap Sweater is made with OEKO-Tex 100 Certified fabric, a certification which means it is guaranteed to be free of toxic chemicals.
So, how do you know which dyes are safe? Here’s what we look for when it comes to deciphering the sustainability of fabric dyes:
Look For These 3 Certifications
To ensure your favorite fabrics are free from toxic chemicals, look for these third-party certifications: GOTS Certified, OEKO-Tex 100 Certified, and Bluesign Certified. These are three reliable certifications that ensure that no toxic chemicals were used in production of the garment.
The Scarlet Mid Rise Slim Jeans holds all three certifications, so you know the dyes used are non-toxic!
Opt for Natural & Plant Based Dyes
Natural dyes come from plants and minerals, while plant-based dyes are made from plant materials only. Both of these dyes are a great step in the direction of lower environmental impact, but there are still some tradeoffs to be aware of.
The Mini Crew Socks in Plant Dye Heather Grey
Naturally dyed colors often fade over time and some natural dyes require the use of materials that can still pollute to hold the color. Natural and plant-based dyes only hold in natural fibers and still require large quantities of water. Regardless of these tradeoffs, natural and plant-based dyes are a big improvement over the majority of synthetic dyes and the hues they create have a unique beauty!
Take a peek at the Mikey Jeans that use plant-based dyes!
Low-Impact Makes a Big Difference
Low-impact dyes are another type of environmentally friendly dye that we see conscious brands using in their clothing. These dyes are synthetic, but contain no toxic chemicals, have powerful colorfastness, and have a high absorption rate (up to 70%!) which means far less water is required. Low-impact dyes are designed to have a significantly lower overall environmental impact while providing the long-lasting brightness many people expect from their clothing.
The Everyday Jogger, Plum - made with low-impact dyes.
When shopping with wearwell, you’ll find these badges on clothing and accessories made by brands that use third-party certified, plant-based, or low-impact dyes we approve of:
Keep an eye out the next time you go shopping!