Textile dyeing technician Birthe – my work at an eco-friendly dyehouse

Textile dyeing technician Birthe Jensen has worked at our eco-certified dyehouse since 1983 and has experienced the development towards a more eco-friendly production first hand – actually, it all started with her. She tells us about her work as a textile dyeing technician and how it is different from other dyehouses.

Dye laboratory technician Birthe – my work at an eco-friendly dyehouse

What do you do as a textile dyeing technician?

I make formulas for the qualities that need dyeing. Basically, I make the recipes for the colours, where I determine how much of each component we need to add to achieve the desired colour. It all starts with our designer, Anna, coming to me with a wish for a new colour and then I get started. After so many years of experience, I have a pretty good idea of where to start, so my first try is often a qualified guess. 90% of our colours consist of the same three components: red, blue and yellow.

When did you start as a textile dyeing technician?

I started back in 1974 and in 1983 I came to L.P. Hansen textilfarveri AS. When I first started at L.P. Hansen it was a time when many dyehouses in Denmark and around Europe were closing down, and we knew that in order to survive in this business we would have to produce a quality like no one else. We started on this task in co-operation with Novo Nordisk, where we wanted to create an enzyme preventing pilling in cotton. The word spread quickly and was copied by other dyehouses. We also wanted to develop an enzyme that could remove itchy hairs from the wool in an eco-friendly way, so the wool would become soft and comfortable to wear. We also managed to achieve that in co-operation with Novo Nordisk, but this time it was us who came up with the recipe.

What initiated the development towards a more eco-friendly production?

In 1985 I became allergic towards some of the chemicals we were using. That got me thinking: if I could become allergic, others might too. So in 1985 we started working towards becoming an allergy-friendly dyehouse.

How do you as a textile dyeing technician make sure that the dyes don’t contain anything harmful?

I always use the Nordic Swan Ecolabel as a guide. We are not regulated by REACH, since we are a small company, but I always make sure that we only buy from suppliers who are regulated by REACH. I always read through the declaration for the product and I require documentation from our suppliers showing that the dyes live up to the criteria of the Nordic Swan Ecolabel.

How is it different to work at an eco-friendly dyehouse?

My experience is that at dyehouses where there is no consideration for the environment not a lot of thought is given to which chemicals are used. And what consequences that can have for the environment and the people working with them. I think it is good that when we release our waste water we know that it is not causing pollution. And that neither I nor my colleagues get allergies from working here.