Perhaps you have considered where your clothes come from, but what about the color on your clothes? That’s the question that we pose in Wild Harvest: Alaska, a short film about Kathy Hattori of Botanical Colors.
Until the 1850s, almost all dyes were obtained from natural materials, but after the first successful synthetic dye was concocted in 1856, synthetics quickly came to dominate the market. While easy to produce on a mass scale, synthetic dyes are often made from coal tar or petroleum. This all comes at a social and environmental cost.
It has been estimated that the treatment and dyeing of textiles is responsible for up to one fifth of industrial water pollution globally, and there are around 72 toxic chemicals that enter the water supply on account of textile dyeing.
Hattori runs a business that offers designers and brands an alternative way, like the recent Botanical Collection with Eileen Fisher. She also works with individuals to teach about the power of natural color. We traveled with Hattori to Alaska where she taught a class on local color, foraging in the Alaskan wilderness to gather plants that would lead to vibrant hues.
This video pairs with our piece on Drifters Fish, both examples of how food and fiber can be drawn from the wild, all in balance with nature.