Natural Dye T-Shirts From Flower Pigments & Food Waste

When it comes to valuing food waste like orange peel, vegetable stems and banana peels, I can think of using them as compost. It is a win-win solution as I wouldn’t have to spend to buy fertilizer for my plants.

However, there is another use for this waste and that is in the form of fabric dye, which TwoFrens attempts to achieve by using natural ingredients as fabric dye for its products.

Take care of your own garden first

When it comes to creative trade names, TwoFrens sums up its founders. The partners behind this are Shuway and Shook.

They come from a background in business and architecture, respectively, coupled with a passion for environmental sustainability.

Shook herself was inspired by sustainable architectural concepts that emphasize the design of buildings that reduce negative impacts on the environment.

While chatting one day about 2020, they came up with the idea of ​​starting a business together. They identified some common values ​​they shared and explored different avenues for businesses to pursue.

Eventually, the couple came to the conclusion of starting a natural dye business.

Dyeing fabrics from natural pigments / Image credit: TwoFrens

“The reason we chose fashion is that the manufacture and chemical dyeing of clothing is the most polluted with chemicals and wasted clean water,” Shuway told Vulcan Post.

“Plus, with fast fashion being a trend these days, we wanted to show others that there is a natural dye option that helps the environment and also reduces pollution.”

While it is impossible to prevent consumers from shopping, TwoFrens mainly offers an alternative that is less harmful to the environment.

RM2 from each transaction is also donated to the Malaysian Nature Society to help conserve the forest to save endangered species and their habitats.

“The reason we chose a local non-profit organization instead of an international organization is that we believe we have to take care of our backyard first,” she said.

Give a second life to onion skin

To create the fabric dyes, unwanted flowers and vegetables come from their own homes.

“Take the onion skins for example, we started out using the ones from our homes, but eventually when we got more orders we went to the market and bought them there,” Shuway said.

They have grown to buy products approaching their expiration date, as grocery stores tend to sell them at discounted rates. Indeed, if fresh produce is purchased instead, it defeats the purpose of the brand.

For flower pigments, they use unwanted flowers and leaves from local florists, giving their waste a second life.

Give flowers and tea bags a second life / Image credit: TwoFrens

However, finding ingredients was one of their biggest challenges when travel was limited during the AGC. Although they contacted cafes and other businesses to collect their food waste, they were often left unanswered.

Fortunately, a small Instagram company, Zenboocha, asked them if TwoFrens wanted them to use tea leaves and rosebuds for their natural dye.

The longevity of a fabric and whether the dye will wear off are frequently asked questions by the community, according to the pair.

Shuway told Vulcan Post that compared to synthetic dye, both fade over time and it highly depends on how it is maintained.

So, for every purchase, care and washing instructions are sent with warnings such as no bleaching and no direct sunlight.

Aim for a sustainable brand

They have collaborated with companies in sachet dyeing / Image credit: TwoFrens

Since both have full time jobs, they only work on TwoFrens on weekends. Although the work is hectic and does not require days off, they consider it a “happy tired” and are motivated by their passion.

What keeps them going is the excitement that comes with successful experiments with natural dyes.

More than turning daily food waste into dyes, they realized that their actions not only reduced waste, but also reused existing household waste.

Their products available for purchase are T-shirts and tote bags costing between RM35 and RM85, which can be found on their Instagram profile.

Headbands and scarves are currently in the works and will also be sold in the coming months.

For now, the cotton fabrics used by TwoFrens are purchased as new. Even though this defeats their brand’s goal – namely: to buy expired products – they make sure the fabric can still be recycled easily.

Although the fabric is bought as new, they eventually hope to use recycled ones / Image Credit: TwoFrens

“In the future, we will certainly explore recycled and recycled materials. But with the current delicate situation, we are still in a “wait and see” situation for finding and collecting recycled and upcycled fabrics, ”Shuway told Vulcan Post.

TwoFrens also plans to open and run workshops so people can learn how to create their own natural dye for fabrics.

TwoFrens hasn’t even broken up until now, as Shuway said it would take time to convince more Malaysians to accept the concept of natural dye with botanical pigments.

  • You can read more about TwoFrens here.
  • You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Shuway and Shook, Co-Founders of TwoFrens


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Jothi Venkat

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