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  • Writer's pictureMedha Nevrekar


‘Nature’, is where it began

We don’t go natural,

We Re-turn.

Natural dyes or colorants derived from natural sources are more than an ecologically smart way to add colour to yarns and cloth. They manifest the idea that there is a relationship between creativity, skill, what we wear, and nature.

The natural sources for these Natural dyes are….


§ roots

  • madder

  • aal (morinda citrifolia)

§ wood & bark

§ berries

§ lichens

§ leaves

  • indigo

  • henna

§ flowers

  • chamomile

  • marigold

§ fruits & nuts

  • walnut

  • harad (myrobalan)

  • pomegranate

§ seeds


§ cochineal

§ lac



§ alum

§ iron

Dyes from natural sources will change

with each season. In a particular year depending on the rainfall, the concentration of dye-stuff in the plant will alter. These dyes were the only source of colour for textiles, leather, basketry, and other materials until synthetic dyes were developed in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Today the stringent environmental standards in textiles and garments imposed by countries cautious about nature and health protection are reviving interest in the application of natural dyes in the dyeing of textile materials. The toxic and allergic reactions of synthetic dyes are compelling people to think about natural dyes.

These natural dyes while being eco-friendly also have a medicinal value because of the anti-microbial and anti-bacterial components. They leave an aesthetically soothing impression.

Nature is an amazing thing and with a little chemistry, you have an unlimited array of natural colours….

· Orange: carrots, gold lichen, onion skins

· Brown: dandelion roots, oak bark, walnut hulls, tea, coffee, acorns

· Pink: berries, cherries, red and pink roses, avocado skins and seeds

· Blue: indigo, red cabbage, elderberries, red mulberries, blueberries, purple grapes, dogwood bark

· Red-brown: pomegranates, beets, bamboo, hibiscus (reddish colour), bloodroot

· Grey-black: Blackberries, walnut hulls, iris root

· Red-purple: red sumac berries, basil leaves, daylilies, pokeweed berries, huckleberries

· Green: artichokes, sorrel roots, spinach, peppermint leaves, snapdragons, lilacs, grass, nettles, plantain, peach leaves

· Yellow: bay leaves, marigolds, sunflower petals, dandelion flowers, paprika, turmeric, celery leaves, lilac twigs, mahonia roots, barberry roots, yellowroot roots, yellow dock roots

Natural dyes - inherent advantages:

· No health hazards i.e. Causes no harm to the human skin

· Raw material is available in plenty

· Easy extraction and purification

· No effluent generation

· Very high sustainability as they are renewable and biodegradable

· Mild dyeing conditions

· Renewable sources

· Manual production process generates more employment and saves on energy

The use of natural dyes is gaining momentum in India with designers shifting to sustainable fashion. So while organic is rising to its vista in terms of healthy crop farming, natural dyes are sustainable by its nature/technique of dyeing. Conclusively, Natural Dyed fabrics help to reduce the carbon footprint on the environment.

Natural is the old normal !!

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