Even the most ardent environmentalists sometimes forget that color-infused fabrics are some of the biggest water users around, sucking up dozens of gallons of water for a single pound of clothing. In a resource-constrained world, that’s no longer acceptable. Colorep., a California sustainable technology company, is trying to make fabric dyeing a water-free prospect with its AirDye process, which uses air instead of water to assist dye in penetrating fiber in products like swimsuits, drapes, and t-shirts.
There are some downsides: the process only works on synthetic fabrics (natural fabrics make up half the world’s market) and it’s currently only available in the U.S., though Colorep plans to bring it to Europe and Central America later this year.
But AirDye has some major potential benefits, too. The system uses 95% less water and 86% less energy than conventional fabric dyeing processes. And while 10% of conventionally-dyed fabric is damaged during the production process, only 1% of AirDyed fabrics are damaged.
Will AirDye change the world of fabric-dyeing as we know it? Probably not, but the system could at least cut some of the 2.4 trillion gallons of water used in synthetic dyeing each year. Check out the AirDye system in action below.
Ariel Schwartz was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a contributor at Fast Company, Inhabitat, Triple Pundit, SF Weekly, and NBC Bay Area Online. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.