From water collection to woodland filtration and worm compositing, learn how the circular economy of Apple Oak Fibre Works goes green for all our good!
It was quite clear to us from the very beginning, that our entire system had to be as ecological and as sustainable as possible. Dye Houses are anything but and are well known for pollution and high water usage.
So what were our goals?
- No Mains Water
- Avoid Water Pollution
- Limit Waste & the wormery
- Green Energy
No Mains Water
Our studio is situated near an industrial estate, surrounded by acres of abandoned glass houses, old nurseries and woodland. Our Studio can be supplied by River Water, but has no direct connection to Mains Supply.
Natural Dyeing works best with Rainwater and don't we have an abundance of it here in Ireland! The PH is generally stable and it is for free. The glasshouses turned out to be perfect for Rainwater Collection. We currently have the capacity to collect 4000L of Rainwater.
Avoid Water Pollution
We only use none toxic mordants, low temperatures and all our dye and drinking water needs are met by using collected rainwater, filtered for drinking, of course, as mentioned above. Nonetheless we still needed to filter the dye water and pumping anything into a nearby river, ground water and even a septic tank, wasn't an option.
Our first idea was to make a very wide and shallow pond in one of the glass houses, filtered by straw bales and aquatic plants. This idea, as lovely as it sounded, was quickly replaced by more realistic and strategic plans. Most weeks, we put over 3000L of water through the system - the scale of the glasshouse pond would have had to be enormous.
It took us over a year and several engineers to come up with a working system which was finally solved by Ollan Herr from Herr Ltd.
The dye water, once used, is pumped through 4 settlement tanks, several planted up gravel and sand filters and 2 further settlement tanks, before being drip fed into an evergreen woodland, acting as the final and last biological filter in the chain by sucking the water up and releasing it back into the air as oxygen.
Limiting Waste & the Wormery
Our Wormery is a big part of our business. It not only composts used dye matter, but also excess cardboard & food waste. It takes about 6months for one of our big worm bins to be ready for emptying. The compost is full of nutrients and can be used for planting straight away. Another great by product is a so called 'worm juice'. A lot of liquid is created during the composting stages and it does wonders to your flowers!
All our packaging is either made from vegetable starch or recycled paper and are fully compostable and recyclable. This includes all our labels and even our cellar tape! (And we use a staple-less Stapler!)
Ideally, we would like to use the compost to grow our own dye plants, but that is not viable as of yet and is part of our mission in the future. We currently, grow a small amount for our own use and we work together with Irish Seedsavers, to make dye plants a part of our National Seed bank.
As you can imagine, eventually our funds ran dry. We are hoping that in the near future we can take care of this final step and work with an Air to Heat pump System. Currently, the workshop has no heating or hot water system. Our Vat is heated by oil unfortunately, but we invested our last funds into the best oil burner with the highest efficiency rate of 97%.
We do not work with higher temperatures than 80 degrees Celcius. Dyes are extracted for an hour and not kept on heat. Our dye Vat and dye baths are insulated with very thick insulation, keeping heat for up to 3 days.
If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading!