Prof Richard Mibey is an Academic and Research Scientist with over 35 years teaching and scientific experience
Some of his major contributions to science include discovering over 120 species of fungi, made major contributions towards conservation of endangered indigenous trees species of Kenya and contributed to discovery of environmental friendly microorganisms (fungi) for bio-control of the water hyacinth weed in Lake Victoria.
Prof Mibey is currently working on an innovation known as Wear tea; Drink tea, which is the extraction of natural dyes from tea. The project was showcased during the 2022 Nairobi innovation week held at the University of Nairobi from 24th to 26 April 2022. Natural dyes from a variety of sources, including plants, animals and minerals, are renewable and sustainable bio resource products with minimal environmental impact.
Wear tea; Drink tea was an inspiration for a clean environment. There are many uses of tea; tea is a beverage but the other part not discovered yet is there a lot of waste during the processing of the tea and the tea farmers and factories lose a lot of the valuable crop. The waste is in form of either farmers being late in taking the tealeaves to the factories due to bad roads or the factory cleaning the waste from the tea and draining it into rivers. All these waste can be turned into dye thereby reducing environmental pollution.
The process of extracting the dye involves boiling the tea extracts and soaking the white fabric in the extract. The intensity of the color is depends on how long the fabric is soaked. The beauty of dying fabrics using tea is the pleasant smell that replaces the chemicals on the cloth.
Prof Mibey notes many different plants have many different compounds for extracting with different shades of fabric dye. For example, Managu plant (African nightshade) gives a yellow dye and the black jack plant gives pink colors.
Some of the advantages of using natural dyes include: preserving the environment, lower human dependence on harmful products, nontoxic and hypoallergenic, contain antimicrobial properties, easy to extract color from pants, fruits and flowers and they are made from renewable resources that can be harnessed without harming the environment.
Wear tea; Drink tea has been patented and is commercial. Prof Mibey has collaborated with Rivatex Textile Company who source the dye from him, make the fabric and sell it to the market.
The goal of this innovation is to conserve the environment and promote sustainable innovations