On the Road to Harmless Handkerchiefs
Still buzzing having just returned from Yogyakarta and Solo where we spent the last few days on the quest to create our first no-harm handkerchiefs. It has always been our intention to produce our handkerchiefs as sustainably as we possibly can. And having already switched from regular cotton to organic cotton to now using retired bed sheets as material for our chiefs’ creation, we have been on this journey for a while now. But our real challenge has been around reducing or eliminating the usage of chemical dyes that enable us to produce handkerchiefs with a lot of detailed font and images on them. We have wanted to go with natural dyes for a while, but have had a difficult time finding production facilities that can ensure high quality and long-lasting, non-running colours. But we think we’ve found at least one in Central Java!
We embarked on this journey with our Balinese screen printer, Pak Wirata, Annisa (TRI’s #1 employee/superhero) and Sam, Director of The Aid Kit, a sustainable fashion designer from Jakarta who led us to this production facility in a small village outside of Solo in Central Java.
Spending time at the production site was a heart-warming experience. We treasured the sensation of soaking the fabric in the fermented indigo solution with our bare hands, then dunking it in cold water to witness the cloth transform from lime green to deep indigo blue before our very eyes – magic! We also used locally sourced tree bark to dye golden yellow, burgundy red, and olive green sample chiefs. We watched in mesmerized silence as the afternoon sun shone through the drying chiefs as they danced in the breeze on the line, the rich saturation of colour reflecting to our eyes but with a direct line to our hearts. No harm handkerchiefs at last!
Meanwhile, inside the ‘factory’, children played together next to their parents who were working on folding some of the beautiful batik sarongs they had been producing.Workers in the next room boiled and blended solutions of plant materials harvested from the nearby fields, locally produced palm sugar, and other natural products to create a heady aroma in the facility without even a hint of toxic chemicals in the mix.
A couple of days later, my fingernails were still dyed indigo blue; a fond and lasting mark from our visit to Solo.
So now when people buy our new no-harm natural dye TRI ‘chiefs, they’ll know that not only are they supporting a critically important cause, they are also enabling good people who are determined to produce textiles in a humane, loving, and Earth-friendly manner.
This trip marks a new milestone for our sustainability journey to fully promote the message of conscious consumption around the world, that everyone needs to make some responsible decisions for the world that we live in. We can start this lifestyle by switching to a handkerchief instead of buying more tissue, like this amazing former model, Nadya Hutagalung who has been one of our biggest supporters to spread this message.
So, look out for many new designs of no-harm handkerchiefs in the weeks and months ahead!