Last week my Design Thinking class watched Gasland.  In case you aren’t familiar with the documentary: After being offered $100,000 for the rights to drill for natural gas on his family’s land, Josh Fox travels to 34 states talking to property owners and environmental experts about the process of hydraulic fracturing aka “fracking”.  Despite allegations of inaccurate accusations, the film is frightening.  The main loss these property owners suffer is their access to clean water, and subsequently, their health.  In one striking scene, Fox lights a family’s tap water on fire.  Lucky for your morale, this post is not about fracking.  It’s about water: the clean, clear, drinkable kind, and the cloudy, chemical-ridden, flammable kind.


Less than 0.5% of the world’s water is fresh and accessible

The World Bank estimates that 17-20% of industrial pollution comes from textile   coloring and treatment.  

Artificial dyes have been used for almost 150 years.  With the advent of hard-to-dye thermoplastic materials like polyester and nylon, heavy metals and other toxic compounds were added to dye baths. 

Treating contaminated water is costly. Many textile dye houses build pipelines that dump industrial runoff either underground or directly into rivers and lakes.

The World Health Organization estimates that polluted water causes 75% of diseases in China, and over 100,000 deaths annually. Cancer rates among villagers who live along polluted waterways are significantly higher than the national average.

[ENTER AirDye] 

Airdye® technology, developed and patented by California-based Colorep, manages the application of color to textiles without the use of water.  Color is injected, from a paper medium into (not onto) the heated fibers in the form of a gas.  Airdye can reduce up to 95% of water use and 86% of energy use. Transfer paper is reused. 

What about the cost?  Colorep claims that AirDye is priced competitively with traditional technology.  Aside from the cost, companies may experience indirect savings.  Colorep explains that on average only 1% of materials are damaged, as opposed to the 10% average with vat dying techniques.  

Would it be lying by omission if I didn’t mention that AirDye only works on synthetics?

How are the results on those synthetics?  Beautiful!  Brooklyn-based Costello Tagliapietra has been using AirDye in its collections since Fall 2010 (images below).  AirDye users have the option of printing one or both sides with solid colors, prints, images and logos.  

Spring 2012

Fall 2011

Spring 2010  

If you haven’t had your fill of positive attributes, check out the AirDye website.  I left out a number of other reasons to use and support users of this technology.  Then, go buy a whimsical dress from Costello Tagliapietra and reward yourself with a big glass of potable tap water.




Freezing your jeans kills bacteria, saves water, reduces fiber breakdown, fading and shrinkage caused by washing, removes odors, costs less, and makes your roommate giggle.  This is a very special instance where doing the right thing requires less effort.  

A third party lifecycle assessment of a pair of Levi’s estimated 58% of energy and 45% of water consumption to occur during consumer use.  Cold washing and hang drying will lower the energy figure, but what about water?  


Lack of hygiene and frozen pants, I say!                  

*Freeze them in an airtight plastic bag