- Q: What are ‘fake natural dyes’?
A: Contrary to popular belief, not all natural dyes are truly eco‐friendly. That is because they may not be sustainably or organically raised or harvested. Pesticides, herbicides, defoliants, etcetera may have been used on the crop or perhaps the crop itself has been genetically modified or unsustainably irrigated. At The Colours of Nature we take great care to know our supply chain and also test our dyes on a regular basis.
- Q: What is the difference between synthetic/chemical and natural dyes?
A: Natural dyes are derived from animal or plant material such as flowers, leaves, insects, bark, roots and even minerals. Synthetic chemical dyestuffs are big business, but unfortunately their production is polluting. Most conventional dyes have an exhaustion rate of 80%, meaning the dyestuff which is not affixed to the fiber is flushed into our rivers with the spent process water. A concern for a manufacturer may be that the colour possibilities are limited when using natural dyes, as this can be a real drawback when replication is important. On the other hand, many people appreciate the slight variations and the richness and depth of natural dyes, seeing a beauty that synthetics just cannot match.
- Q: What is the truth about organic cotton?
A: During the 1990’s the movement towards organic cotton took on new momentum, with more widespread certification of producers of organic cotton. But whilst organic, and especially adhering to the strict GOTS certification, does help reduce pollution of soils, organic does not really help reduce water consumption. To make up for it, remember that the whole value chain counts and apply natural dyes!
- Q: Are there health benefits from the natural dyes (other than from less damage to the environment)?
A: This is not really clear cut. It may be that wearing naturally dyed clothes only can help us avoid allergies but we would say that not enough serious studies have yet stated that there are actual health benefits from wearing or sleeping on the naturally dyed products, even though some make this claim. We cannot say that just because dyes are derived from plants that may have medicinal properties, these properties are carried across to the dyed fabric.
- Q: Where can I buy your products?
A: You can visit us at our site where we have a showroom displaying a range of products. Our scarves are available with Lively Boutique, in Auroville, and as part of the collection of To Be Two at the Auroville Visitor’s Centre. In addition, many brands, like Industry of All Nations and 11.11 (started by designer Himanshu Shani), dye with us at The Colours of Nature.
- Q: Can I work for or intern at TCoN?
A: At the moment we are interested in hearing from people who want to offer their skills in design, be it for textiles or to produce appealing graphic content, such as labels, packaging, and brochures. This can also include photographers. Time commitment and payment terms vary. Please send an e‐mail to email@example.com to enquire.
- Q: Can I support TCoN financially?
A: If you are also passionate about the environment and are in a position to support our growth, you are most welcome to donate to us. Donations to Auroville units are normally tax deductible and if you have specific wishes, conditions could be agreed upon. Do be in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org in and we’ll take it from there, exploring together.
- Q: Are you available for consultations?
A: We are always interested in hearing from other natural dye experts who are open to a mutual sharing of experience. We will consider any request, so do drop us a line at email@example.com, detailing your need. Do keep in mind that we are not currently able to openly share our knowledge with those that would set up to directly compete with us.
- Q: Can I get training in these techniques?
A: We do not have the capacity to keep offering trainings, as we need to focus on the production itself. Therefore, we would have to answer no to this question.
- Q: What is Auroville?
A: Auroville is the oldest and largest intentional spiritual community in the world. Started in 1968, by a woman called Mirra Alfassa, referred to as Mother, a long‐term collaborator of Indian sage, poet and revolutionary Sri Aurobindo, the raison d’etre is Human Unity. Currently, some 2500 people live in this evolving township in the south eastern Indian state Tamil Nadu. For more information, see www.auroville.org.