Down to Earth: The Materials Behind TerraDye

Down to Earth: The Materials Behind TerraDye

new workwear market bags by united by blue


The secret behind the unique, earthy colors found in our new TerraDye collection is, well…unique, earthy dyes. From roots to fruits and even insect secretion (more on that later), all-natural pigments are to thank for giving TerraDye its signature hues.


Natural dyes are non-toxic, biodegradable, and can be extracted with water alone. What’s more: their wastewater can be repurposed into things like biofuel and eco-friendly fertilizer. Natural dyes are quite resourceful as well – making use of often discarded materials (like fruit rinds!) – and create truly unique, one-of-a-kind products.


Here’s a deeper look at our four TerraDye colors and the natural pigments behind them:


TerraDye Color: Mushroom

Material: Pomegranate rind


What’s subtle, soft, and khaki all over? Apparently pomegranates. Turns out that underneath its rich, pink hue, a pomegranate’s thick, leathery rind is more of a mild yellow color. While the juicy seeds go off to be eaten, our dye partners make good use of the skins by turning them into a soft, neutral pigment.

 coral workwear bag

TerraDye Color: Coral

Material: Rubia cordifolia

The root of the Rubia cordifolia (a flowering plant in the coffee family) is to thank for the warm, red-orange hue of Coral TerraDye. It does produce red and black berries, but its roots are the key ingredient to dye making. At first glance they simply appear brown, but after being ground into a fine powder they can contain an array of natural colorants, from red to yellow, orange, and brown – giving textiles an especially unique appearance.

 charcoal marketplace workwear bag

TerraDye Color: Charcoal

Material: Terminalia chebula


The Terminalia chebula is a tree found throughout South and Southeast Asia that yields small, nut-like fruits. In Ayurveda (an ancient Indian medical system), Terminalia chebula fruit is used in remedies to treat kidney and liver dysfunctions. Turns out it makes a pretty great dye, too. The pigment is extracted after the fruit has been dried and can be used to create shades of yellow and grey (like our Charcoal bag).


TerraDye Color: Lavender

Material: Kerria lacca


Believe it or not, our soft, Lavender TerraDye color starts off as…bug droppings. The Kerria lacca is a species of insect that’s part of the larger lac family (a group of insects used in making shellac). During their larval stage, tiny Kerria lacca “crawlers” feed on their host plants, leaving behind a thick, waxy secretion, which just so happens to make beautiful red, burgundy, and purple dyes. Lac insects are highly sought after for producing shellac, but their waxy resin is largely considered a waste product – so our dye partners intercept it and put it to much better use as a dreamy, purple colorant.

Shop the full collection of naturally-dyed organic bags and accessories here >

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