Algae help make clothes to be dyed


Crùbag, an established ocean-inspired fashion company, showcased their new R&D innovation project at the recent Sustainable Angle Future Fabrics Expo in London. The partnership between Crùbag and SAMS aims to develop sustainable algae-based dyes for use in the textile industry, one of the world’s biggest polluters.

Nearly 140,000 tonnes of synthetic dyes are lost to the environment, with negative impacts. The textile industry generates $1 trillion globally, employs 35 million people worldwide and is in urgent need of natural and sustainable dyes.

With initial support from Algae UK and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Seadyes project selected seaweed species that are native and readily available in Scotland and suitable for cultivation.

Some were already grown on site at the SAMS seaweed farm and offered commercially attractive color ranges (green, pink, red and brown).

Crùbag Founder and Director, Jessica Giannotti, said, “Crùbag is evolving her ocean-focused practice from design and storytelling to materiality. We want to inspire a deeper connection with nature, share important environmental education, and be part of systemic change by innovating through science, creativity, and interdisciplinary collaboration. We can do better and we must.

“The future of Seadyes is exciting, and we look forward to further developing this innovation as a business solution that can benefit Crùbag and other brands and organizations in the fashion and textile industries. Fashion can be a force for good and prompt a shift in balance away from hydrocarbons.

The research team quantified the pigments, tested four solventless extraction methods, and assessed the need for pigment separation and purification. They then tested several techniques for dyeing and fixing the dye (pH, Temp, UV light and adding fixer).

In the second phase of Seadyes, Jessica worked with Professor Michele Stanley, Associate Director for Science, Enterprise and Innovation at SAMS, to optimize the pigment extraction and dyeing process and facilitate interaction at long term.

Jessica added, “We’ve had great results with red algae. Palmaria Palmata and created a beautiful natural dye in various shades of pinks and reds. The dyes have also been successfully fixed on organic silk, organic cotton and merino wool.

“By working at the intersection of marine science, fashion and aquaculture, we can create sustainable products from the ocean that are beautiful – and better than plastic. It’s time to move away from oil-based economy and to develop a circular regeneration model that does not bring us to the tipping point. We must preserve biodiversity, take into account the natural carrying capacity of our ecosystems and move to a carbon neutral economy , even positive for the climate.


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