We recently visited the Eden Project near St Austell in Cornwall and were impressed not only by the vast “biomes” and their horticultural contents but by the detail into which the designers of some of the exhibits have gone. Particularly intriguing was the Spindigo exhibit that is being undertaken with researchers at University of Reading. Spindigo as the name might hint at, aims to find a sustainable way to supply the textile industry with the unique blue jeans dye indigo from natural renewable resources rather than synthetic chemicals. Certainly a worthwhile cause.
The Spindigo exhibit went into some detail about how all kinds of natural materials have been used to release the blue colouring from its natural plant sources. The seemingly endless list included dates, grapes, yeast, molasses, figs, papaya, green bananas. Our colleague began to wish he hadn’t visited the Eden Project’s restaurant for a “Cornish pastie” when he got further down the list. Rotten meat as well as urine (they don’t mention whose) have also been used to extract the blue. But, the last entry was the most offputting – dog poo! On reflection, though perhaps this secret ingredient is part of what makes those shrink-to-fit jeans so trendy. Just don’t tell the marketing department.