Sustainable staple: London brand’s black algae dye absorbs CO2

August 9, 2021 |

In California, clothing brand Vollebak has been growing black algae in ponds to be used as dyes in T-shirts, enabling the garment to absorb CO2 for as much as a century.  

Traditionally, black garments are dyed with synthetic chemicals made from carbon black extracted from tar sands, a process with a sizable environmental impact. London-based Vollebak, already known for its sustainable fashion innovations, including fabrics made from eucalyptus, turned to black algae as an alternative. The dye only requires sunlight and CO2 to grow, and provides “abundant” amounts of the staple color for Vollebak’s collections, the label reports. The garment continues to absorb CO2 as the consumer wears it, and biodegrades in as little as 12 weeks when tossed. 

There are some special care instructions, however.  “The black algae ink has been engineered to be UV resistant so it will hold its color for years,” Vollebak tells Yanko Design. “But since this is a bio-based ink it won’t behave exactly like a petroleum-based ink. Over time the black color may brighten around the edges next to the seams. To make the algae last for as long as possible we recommend hand washing the t-shirt in cold water with as little detergent as possible.” 

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Category: Chemicals & Materials

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