Nowadays natural dyes are one of the main areas of textile researchers and important in terms of sustainable and ecological textiles, niche market and value-added unique textiles. Serious environmental concerns have led to a rise in demand for natural dyestuffs obtained from sustainable natural sources (plants/animals/minerals). Natural dyes are additionally claimed non-toxic to human. Therefore, textiles dyed using natural products are becoming for the current eco-friendly lifestyle.
As the denim and apparel industry moves toward more natural materials and inputs, so necessary steps are taken to make changes in developing of those materials for an industry in need. Faculty and students at Dokuz Eylül University in İzmir, Turkey, are working on one of these projects entitled ‘Experimental Eco print designs by using natural dyes and TENCEL™ lyocell fabrics’.
The study is focused on using natural dyes in place of their more synthetic counterparts. TENCEL™ lyocell is an environmentally friendly fiber that has an important role in the development of environmentally sustainable textiles, a great plus for denim and raises its value.
This experimental study was conducted within the frame of Bachelor’s Degree graduation project. They have combined science in art and design altogether by dyeing TENCEL™ lyocell fabrics with natural dyes and patterning with plants which were used as stamps and stencils.
They have included two novel natural dyes in the scientific literature; Prina (by-product of olive oil production) and outer green shells of almond (agricultural waste).
“Combining natural dyes with an environmentally friendly fiber like TENCEL™ lyocell would be beneficial in terms of sustainability. It is believed that the best results in natural dyeing applications are obtained with protein fibers such as silk, wool. However, satisfactory results can also be achieved with cellulosic fibers like cotton, viscose, lyocell etc. in case of using optimum recipes and working conditions,” said Professor Dr. Özlenen ERDEM İŞMAL of Dokuz Eylül University in İzmir, Turkey.
In natural coloring and eco-printing, they have used a regenerated cellulosic man-made fabric successfully in this project. Within the scope of sustainability, unique textile designs and high value-added products were achieved by using renewable natural colorants and an environmentally friendly fiber.
They have experimented to create a natural dye color gamut and how to make the clearest, vivid and sharp patterns with plants using different mordents or materials.
In contrast to general opinion form professor, that satisfactory results can be achieved with protein fibers such as wool, silk etc. in natural coloring and eco-printing.
Unique physical properties of TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers; lead to their great strength, efficient moisture absorption and gentleness to skin. Not only fabric is made from TENCEL incredibly useful and beautiful, but it is arguably one of the most eco- friendly fibers on the market. So, the researchers try to improve sustainable dyeing with the TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers.
Thanking to Lenzing-AG (Austria) and Apparel Project Manager Dr. Hale Bahar Öztürk for their intense efforts and supply of TENCEL™ fabrics used in the project, Dr. Özlenen said, “We closely follow Lenzing and appreciate its production strategies, contribution to education, and sensitivity to university-industry cooperation.”
Let’s look at the facts of sustainable issues:
- The solvents used in production process are non-toxic and are able to reuse again. This is due to technique called ‘closed loop’ spinning. This eliminates dumping of waste 98%..
- The fiber itself is completely biodegradable, making it far safer to dispose of than most other common fabrics.
- While the textile does use traditional dyes, its impressive absorbency allows companies to use less dyes to achieve desired effect.
- There is no need to bleach this fiber before dyeing due to its pure white color at production.
Products such as TENCEL™, are an inspiring step into the future of more environmentally conscious industry. The researchers of Dokuz Eylül University in İzmir, Turkey also have developed Lenzing fabric catalogs with the blends of TENCEL™ and other natural fibers. So the sustainable dyeing development concern is getting increased due to ecological balance impact.