A Fresh Take on Sustainability in the Textile Industry

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Ploughboy Organics, a relatively new company with a fresh take on sustainable textiles have been developing new technology to create ethical fabrics and dyes for use in apparel and home furnishings. It initially started as a small idea, and has now escalated to become a revolutionary way of producing textile fibres and dyes. In 2009, Suzanne de Vall, founder and chairman of Ploughboy Organics, thought about other potential uses of tobacco plants whilst standing in the middle of an organic tobacco field, on a trip to Turkey. From this initial thought Suzanne has since developed, and continues to develop, new patent-pending technology that uses the tobacco plant as a renewable resource for creating dyes and fibres for the textile industry.

Tobacco plant which can be used to create a natural dyes and fibres (Image: Ecouterre)

Dyes

This innovative method of creating natural and organic dyes is ground breaking, as it means that organic and non-toxic dyeing can be applied to a large scale production process for commercial use. Ploughboy Organics have also built their own specialised machinery, which uses a mere fraction of the water and energy that would normally be used with conventional dyeing techniques. Due to the use of natural and organic materials used to create the dyes, the process also leaves behind virtually no toxic waste. These new techniques that the team at Ploughboy Organics have created provide the textile industry with completely organic and natural dyes which are, relatively low in cost, easily applied to mass production and also eliminate the need to purify toxic waste water. Not only are these dyes incredibly environmentally friendly, but Suzanne has also managed to develop 30 different colours in varying hues to suit the needs of the fashion industry.

Fibres

Suzanne De Vall has been determined to develop her new found technology, not only into the natural and organic dyes that Ploughboy have created, but also to develop an organic textile fibre.  Using what would usually be considered agricultural waste, the company take the fibre from the stalk of the tobacco plant and spin it to create an antimicrobial material. This fibre can then be blended with other natural fibres, such as wool, cotton and silk to create sustainable textiles and apparel. The company are still developing the new Onatah fibres and are hoping to be able to introduce it to the industry during 2013.

The main aim for the Ploughboy Organics company is to create ethically sound dyes and fibres made from natural and organic raw materials, eliminating the use of pesticides and chemicals. Through these developments they hope to shift the existing paradigm of the fashion and textiles industry, with the use of sustainable agricultural and production methods.

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