Sustainable textiles, hand dyed in India

Our former intern Srikanth Damarla recently graduated from Saxion in Innovative Textile. He wrote his master thesis under our guidance conducting a sustainable analysis. He compared our Indian naturally block printed textiles with rotary screen-printed textiles produced in the Netherlands. It was found that the overall environmental impact of hand printed textiles is lower than the rotary screen-printed textiles. Most remarkable is that the hand printed textiles from India have 70% lower impact on environment and human health even though these fabrics are transported from India to The Netherlands by airway.

Hand-dyed textiles in India

The reason that our textiles have lower impact on our environment is due to the use of plant-based dyes versus chemical dyes used in rotary printing and the amount of waste water generated. Srikanth also found in his research that the fact that our textiles are all hand printed and sun dried therefore hardly have any carbon emissions. Also, the dyes are handmade and don’t pollute water bodies, making the entire production process environment friendly. 

Rotary screen-printed textiles in The Netherlands

The advantages of getting your textiles produced in The Netherlands, that if you choose to produce in bulk, you are close to the manufacturer and have more control over the design and production process. Srikanth has interviewed the employees at the block printing studio in India and the workers in The Netherlands at the rotary screen printing factory to compare the working conditions. In The Netherlands employees get paid during holidays and get extra benefits, whereas in India the craftspeople don’t. Hence these employees in The Netherlands haves more securities. 

Conclusion

The impact on human health using hand block printing technique is low, because no chemicals are used in the making process.  The impact on our ecosystem is also lower than rotary printing as less water is used in the production process. However, the use of cow manure in desizing the fabric does have an impact on the environment. Finally, there is little usage of natural resources (such as energy, gas and oil) in the production process of printed fabric compared to rotary screen-printed fabric.

Overall one can conclude that our handmade plant-dyed block printed textiles from India are more sustainable than rotary screen printed textiles produced in The Netherlands, due to use of machines and chemicals, even though our textiles are imported by airways.