STEAM & Sustainability: Plant Based Dyes

Did you know that the fashion industry is the second leading cause of pollution globally, after oil? Producing fabric, specifically cotton, requires a massive amount of water. The chemical dyes used to change the color of natural cotton is often dumped in our waterways effecting the entire ecosystem. In our art we looked at the devastating impact azo dyes have on the environment and brainstormed what we can do to limit consumption by recycling clothing. We are extremely fortunate to have an amazing art room volunteer, Mr. Rich, who so kindly donated a garbage bag full of old 100% cotton shirts. We began this project by cutting the shirts in long rectangles…

Click here to watch the TedX Talk: The Lifecycle of the T-Shirt


Once the shirts were cut into a different shape we explored natural dyes and experimented with red cabbage and turmeric. Both red cabbage and turmeric are excellent natural dyes and can give new life to any old t-shirt, dress or skirt (non-synthetic fiber)! Students also learned about the Japanese art of Shibori by binding and folding their fabric to create patterns. Once the natural dyeing process was complete students used the fabric to make travel pillows!


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