Colour has an important role in our natural and built environment. However, when taking into account all efforts and environmental strains that production and usage of colour and colourants bear, it seems necessary to examine colour from a more broader and new perspective. Sustainability calls for a new mind-set on how colour is determined and used, and what kind of meanings and impacts are attached to it.

Items and artefacts are coloured, and colours bear a great variety of meanings. Colours effect on surroundings as well as individuals. We are affected by colours in many ways, and colours have influences on our being and behaviour. Colour has a central role in production and marketing. For example, on the one hand, seasonal colours of products affect our purchase decisions – on the other hand, we discard items because of unfashionable colour.

But do we know where the colours come from and what are the processes behind the colours and colourants? Are we aware of the sustainability aspects of colour and production of colourants? What about the colourants when recycling materials, what aspects need to be taken into account? What would be a sustainable way to produce colourful products?

When obviously one reason to obtain a product is its colour, and at the other end to discard a product is its unfashionable, worn-out or faded colour, are there any solutions to break and recreate this picture? What is acceptable colour change, in terms of the product to be viable and usable? What kind of transformation in colour literacy would be needed to increase sustainability in colouration of daily products? What kind of educational implications could there be to increase sustainable colour literacy? And what kind of literacy for colour would be needed to go forward towards more sustainable uses and interpretations of colour?

Products are colourful (usually) and colour is an important factor in production, marketing, consuming, and at the end of consumption also when discarding the product. Colour has a crucial role in fashion, which is based on fast cycles of consumption. But the role of colour as a factor in the product lifetime is seldom thought of. This session wants to focus on colour, and what kind of solutions could be found to create more sustainable colour practices to increase lifetimes of products.

This session calls for papers which focus on products’ colour, and how colour can increase/decrease sustainability and product lifetime. What kind of educational and practical interventions and novel approaches would be needed in understanding and producing more sustainable colour.

Session owner: Dr Riikka Räisänen, Helsinki University

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