The miracles of biology can help the fashion industry with the transition to a sustainable future. Each year more than 3,500 chemicals used in the industry go into waterways, polluting and damaging the surrounding ecosystem. Some companies have already started to experiment with dyeing fabrics through the use of microbes.
The U.K based bio design research studio Faber Futures uses Streptomyces coelicolor - a bacteria that produces pigment as it grows during its week-long life. “The microbe naturally changes color based on the pH of the medium it grows inside, so by tweaking that environment, it’s possible to create navy blue, for example, or bright pink.” The process has a lot of benefits, such as less water is needed than for typical industrial dyeing and it doesn’t require the use of agricultural land and pesticides to grow plants to make the dye.
Another great example is bio design project “Living Colour” created by Dutch designers Laura Luchtman and Ilfa Siebenhaar, which also focuses on textile dyeing with bacteria. At the same time it explores ways to accelerate growth and manipulate the bacteria pigments into patterns through sound waves.