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Floral Dye: Is it a sustainable way to dye fabrics?

Raeann Heng

Is Fabric Dyeing with Floral Waste a Sustainable Method?

Yes and No. 

Floral waste collected from a chain hotel.
Floral waste collected from a hotel.


Over the last 3 weeks, I've been busy collecting and experimenting with unwanted flowers for a fabric-dyeing method. I have read articles and watched many videos on how to add mordant to fabrics and the different techniques of transferring the colors to the fabric. 


Flowers rolled up in the fabric, ready to be steamed for 2 hours.

Flowers are rolled up in the fabric, steamed for 2 hours and left for 48 hours.

Hammering technique is another way to transfer colors

The hammering technique is another way to transfer colors. The red roses turned blue due to an alkaline mordant. 

I used linen, a natural fabric, and tested two different techniques, steaming and hammering. Both acidic and alkaline mordants were tried as well (i.e.,vinegar and soda ash). Unfortunately, all attempts failed. 

Subtly dyed fabric

The colors were nearly all gone after 2 machine washes, despite mordanting.

Are the other bloggers or videos lying? Maybe not. But there are simply too many variations to try out before you succeed, and through your journey, you would have wasted resources while producing carbon emissions that harm the environment.

But would I give it another shot? Yes, if I can learn directly from someone who has succeeded, to cut down on experimental wastes. It is still a wonderful idea to reduce floral waste that usually end up in the bin. 

The Alternative to Floral Waste? Compost.  

Composting is a very underrated way to reduce your organic waste. While it does take time and can be a little yucky, but the process can help your garden grow better without synthetic fertilizers. The florists among us may compost floral waste for their flower farms and create a system of sustainable farming. Composting organic waste.

Composting is a great way to recycle your organic wastes.

The alternative for sustainable fabric dyeing?

Consider fibre-reactive dyes that are sustainably made and non-toxic to the environment. I gave the dylon cold dye a try, it was easy, fuss free and consumed less water and energy in the process. I went a step further to email the manufacturer about the environmental impacts of their dyes. 

Corporate response form Dylon Dye company

More companies should have greater awareness of their byproducts. Kudos to Dylon Dyes for being environmentally conscious.

What Are Your Thoughts? 

As a business on a sustainability mission, this floral waste experiment was done in an attempt to be responsible for as much of the fashion supply chain as possible. Would you wear floral dyed clothing? Is the journey to successful floral dyeing worth it? 

Maybe. You should give it a try! 

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