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Age-old dyes foster today’s sustainability

September 18th, 2019 / By: / EcoNote

Recent works by four fashion students used millenia-old techniques of dyeing textiles using onion skins to showcase the growing sustainability movement.  The project, sponsored in part by the National Onion Association, came to fruition when New York fashion designer Maria Elena Pomboopened her studio to the New York Parson’s School of Design students. Pombo opted for the students to work with onion skins after realizing they came from some of the top onion-producing countries in the world: the U.S, India, China and Japan. 

The students dyed wools, yarns, cottons, linens and silks with onion skins and other natural ingredients to enhance color. Sometimes the students used baking soda or vinegar to change the pH and in turn change the color. They used only elements that were safe to go back to the earth, aiming for zero waste, stated the release.

The project highlights two global issues: the need to limit food waste and the need for sustainability in the fashion industry. The release stated that onions are a key feature in daily diets and is the third-most consumed fresh vegetable in the United States–which translates to lots of onion skins and lots of dyeing opportunities.  

A collection of the students’ work, called Onion Society, will be displayed Sept. 20–22, 2019, at Issue 00 in Brooklyn, New York. 

The National Onion Association, which provided this information, was incorporated in 1913 and represents more than 500 onion growers, shippers, packers and suppliers throughout the United States.