Raw cotton is grown, harvested, and ginned to remove impurities. The raw fibers are then spun into yarn. A mill knits or weaves the yarn into fabric, and that fabric enters the dyeing process.
Dye colors are created by mixing different amounts of red, blue, and yellow into a solution that is then poured into the dye bath. The dye is then fixed onto the cotton fabric.
The dyeing process requires extensive use of chemicals. In order for the dye to bond and adhere to the fabric, salt and alkali must be used to force a reaction.
Dye houses typically use two sources of water: local municipal water and/or ground water, otherwise known as well water. There are many different steps needed to fix dye onto cotton including extensive washing. This means the dye bath is filled and drained six or more times for a conventional dye cycle. The wastewater ultimately ends up in streams, rivers, and lakes.