Our tie-dye process involves using secondhand cotton t-shirts as fabric, tie-dying with harvested rainwater, and embellishing with repurposed zippers, bamboo clips, and recycled paper tags.

With the t-shirts, we transform them into jackets, handbags, backpacks, shorts, trousers, and bow-ties... The products that we make here are different. They are very quality and affordable. These products in-town are not common, so when you wear it, you will feel the spirit that yes, you’ve worn tie-dye.
— Matilda Lartey, Workshop Manager

Secondhand Cotton T-Shirts:

Our products are made from secondhand cotton t-shirts that have been worn, donated or disposed of, and shipped from around the world to Ghana where they are sold in local markets. The workshop purchases in bulk from Kantamanto market in Accra. The cloth-makers cut open the shirts, trim the edges off, and dye the fabrics so that the seamstresses and tailor can cut and sew them into new products. Fabrics scraps and strips are used for accessories or joined together to form balls of yarn, which the knitters use for hats, mittens, and other products. By repurposing secondhand clothing for use by cloth-makers and tailors as a material rather than as a cheap replacement for their goods, we help sustain the local textile industry. We also prevent environmental degradation by eliminating the pesticides, fertilizers, and high quantities of water that would otherwise be used for additional cotton production.

Tie-Dyed with Harvested Rainwater:

To reduce reliance on groundwater resources, the workshop installed a rainwater capturing system on its rooftop, which fills a polytank of over 500 gallons. This water is used to rinse fabrics during the tie-dye process, which uses VAT dyes and sodium dithionite and sodium hydroxide as reducing agents. We also continue to invest resources into developing economically feasible and energy efficient filtration systems to allow for the reuse of waste-waters.

Repurposed Zippers & Bamboo Clips:

Since aluminum and plastic zippers are neither recyclable nor biodegradable, the workshop repurposes zippers from secondhand jackets discarded and sent to Ghana. The manager purchases old, heavily worn jackets in bulk from Kantamanto market in Accra. The apprentices then cut these zippers out of the jackets, and the seamstresses and tailors sew them into our new products. The workshop uses synthetic thread for sewing because of its increased flexibility and strength and adds elastic bands to some products.The extra jacket material is used for padding in laptop cases, backpacks, and pet mats. For backpacks or bags that require adjustable straps, the workshop works with a local bamboo-carver in the art market who hand-carves backpack clips for the products to avoid the use of plastic clips.

Recycled Paper Tags:

Rather than print product tags on plastic or paper cards with machine ink, the workshops make its own recycled paper from used newspapers. The apprentices blend the newspapers into a paper pulp, set the paper using a mold and deckle, and let it sun dry. Our team of knitters who work-from-home handwrite and decorate the product tags, which offers an additional income source and gives each product a personal touch.