It's Earth Month!

Remember these? They're the swatches of color-grown cotton fabric I experimented with last August. The bottom group of swatches (with 2 dots) were washed in warm alkaline water to deepen the color. This tendency to deepen in color is one of the more fun and interesting properties of color-grown cotton. My original idea was to  the experimental group regularly to see how deep the colors would become.

Seven months later and the soaking process has remained the same for the swatches but soaked not as often as I had hoped. Since alkaline water is supposed to hasten the darkening of the color-grown cotton, the swatches with two dots were soaked in a bath of 2 teaspoons of baking soda dissolved in 5 cups warm (comfortable for my hands) water for 15 minutes and also air dried as before. I've bathed the bottom set of swatches three more times since my original post.

And this is where I'm supposed to show a picture of the results!!

As it turns out the results are subtle and impossible for me to capture with my (now difficult to replicate) lighting and photographic skills. I can give an anecdotal report, however. For the alkaline (two-dot) bath group, I'd still have to call the light green "light green", but it appears to be a slightly deeper light green than before. The tan fabric showed little change from the first warm baking soda and water soak. Though not quite as dramatic as I had imagined, it was a lot of fun watching the development. Do try this at home! :)

A Brief Review

Naturally colored fibers (like the cotton fabric above and in the shop or the wool used for O! Jolly! Westerly Openwork Rib) get their rightful mention in Sustainable Fashion & Textiles - Design Journeys by Kate Fletcher [affiliate link]. The book is a compelling treatise on the lifecycle of textiles, the impact that textile production has on fashion industry, and how the demands of fashion influence textile production. The major theme of the book can be summed up in this statement:
After all, unless we look at a product from a lifecycle or whole-system perspective we risk ignoring major sources of environmental impact (such as the use phase), and opportunities for innovation and change.

Cover of the most recent edition; I reviewed an earlier edition.
This book is the real deal, researched, chock-full of statistics and graphs. It's not just the chemicals and dyes used in the manufacturing process that have an impact on the earth but also the temperature of water we choose to wash our clothes. Figures are cited. Reports are quoted. And when a report has been financed by a manufacturers' trade organization, it is acknowledged that there may be "spin". Fletcher also presents positive examples of sustainable production and actionable steps for both the manufacturer and consumer to take in order to lessen the environmental impact of clothing and textile use and production.

Types of pollution associated with dyeing various fibers (right) and a summary of developments in dye chemistry. Click to enlarge.

Tiny as my business is, I am a producer of textiles. Since I have no plans to personally raise the sheep, grown the cotton, or totally control the shearing, ginning, combing, spinning, dyeing (if any), along the way, there will always be compromises. I'll continue to work hard making the best decisions I can in the manufacture of my product.

Looking Forward

I'm thrilled to report that the natural color-grown cotton fabrics will continue to be available with new knit designs in color-grown cotton arriving soon! As I write I'm also working to offer a fabric knitted with upcycled cotton yarn. It will be exciting to be able to provide a colorful fabric in the future that's manufactured with no added dye. How is that possible? The video shows how the yarns are produced.
Clicking will bring you to the video on the Recovertex site.

I'm old enough to remember the first Earth Day. (It was 1970.) A few years ago I began to hear about Earth Week. Now Earth Month is the thing. So Happy Earth Month, everyone! Let's try to make each day Earth Day.

Disclosures:  Book links are Amazon affiliate links. Opinions are my own.

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