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

Our textile dyeing technician, Birthe Jensen, has been working at our eco-certified dyehouse since 1983. Birthe has witnessed our progression towards becoming more and more eco-friendly first hand. In fact, it all started with her. She talks about her work as a textile dyeing technician, and how our dyehouse differs to others.

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 materials that need dyeing. Ultimately, I make the recipes for the dyes, determining how much of each component we need to add to achieve the desired colour. The process starts with our designer Anna, who comes to me with a new colour in mind, and I bring her ideas to life. After many years of experience, I have a pretty good idea of where to start, so I often guess which colours to combine. 90% of our colours consists of the same three components; red, blue, and yellow.

When did you start as a textile dyeing technician?

In 1974 I started textile dyeing, and in 1983 I went to L.P. Hansen. At the time I first started at L.P. Hansen, many of the dyehouses in Denmark and Europe were closing down. We knew that in order to survive this time of instability, we knew we would have to produce a quality like no other. We first started by co-operating with Novo Nordisk and strove to produce an enzyme that prevented pilling in cotton. This idea spread quickly and other dyehouses began to copy it. We also wanted to develop an enzyme that could remove the itchy hairs from wool in an eco-friendly way, so the wool would become exceptionally soft to wear. We managed to come up with a solution for this whilst in co-operation with Novo Nordisk, but it was us who came up with the recipe.

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

In 1985 I became allergic to some of the chemicals we used when dyeing. That made me realise, if I could be allergic to the chemicals, others might be too. Therefore, in 1985, we started our journey 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, as we are a small company, but I always make sure we buy from REACH regulated suppliers. I always read through product declarations and ask suppliers to for documents proving they live up to the criteria of the Nordic Swan Ecolabel.

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

From my experience, dyehouses that give no consideration to the environment, don’t give any thought to the chemicals they use and how they can be harmful to the environment and their workers. I feel happy knowing that when we release our waste water, we are not causing any pollution. It is also reassuring that neither my colleagues nor I will suffer allergic reactions from the chemicals we use.