Today’s Solutions: May 24, 2022

Historically, our clothes were dyed with natural plants and pigments, but, as the textile industry has grown, so has its use of chemicals to achieve vibrant clothing colors. To address chemical pollution from the clothes we wear, a research team from Iowa State University has gone back to basics and found a new and sustainable way to pigment clothing using something you probably see in your kitchen every day: coffee grounds.

Different shades of brown can be extracted from the grounds and used in conjunction with a pigment fixative to create long-lasting, sustainable dyes. The team says given the different bean types, it can be difficult to achieve consistent colors, but the variety of dye hues also gives the fabric a beautiful uniqueness.

With 100 million Americans drinking coffee every day, there is no shortage of grounds to be re-purposed into the dye, and the team hopes textile companies will adopt the technique as a way to achieve eco-friendly and unique clothing designs.

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