Natural eco dyes made from leftover food waste and other ingredients you will find in your kitchen, is easy to make. You won’t believe the joy and magic that will unfold before your eyes. All it takes is an old white cotton shirt, food waste, old pots and pans with a bit of patience.
A great way to give your old white shirt a second chance, is to paint or dye the cotton shirt with natural eco dyes. All from the comfort of your kitchen counter, you will find out you can do more with your food waste.
Dyeing your cotton, wool, linen and other natural fibers with natural eco dye is much better for your skin, the environment and your wallet.
Because you don’t use chemicals to color your old shirt, it’s better to wear if you have skin problems, like rashes and allergies.
It relaxes the skin and gives it time to heal. (More info about the therapeutic values of eco-dyeing can be found in Ayuravastra).
Natural eco dyeing is a fun and rewarding process that takes patience, gives you exercise in letting go of control, helps you to find the inner child in you, gives you endless opportunities for creativity and teaches you to give your old clothes a new chance.
1. Pomegranate peels
Pomegranate rinds and fruits can be used both. It gives a beautifully yellow/green.
The colors can be washed so it’s a great way to re-use the food waste after eating a delicious healthy pomegranate. It’s rich in tannin, which is important to improve colorfastness.
2. Onion skins
The outer skin of these vegetables is perfect for natural eco dyes. Ready to use, white onions skins will provide you with yellow, orange, rust and brown. Perfect for your old white shirt, because onion skins can be used very simply.
You can use red onion skins too, it will give you a rusty pink.
The more onion skins you collect, the stronger the color will be.
The addition of onion skins to another dyebath creates brighter tones. It’s the perfect combination with Curcuma to create brighter yellow.
Curcuma is used since the old ages for its many different health benefits and natural eco dyes. The beautiful yellow color of the monks of India, is one of those joyful colors that will be perfect in the summertime.
A shirt dyed in Curcuma gives sun protection and helps heal skin rashes.
Just watch out for the small particles after dyeing your old shirt. Even though it gives a quick result, the beautiful yellow color can fade away a bit more easily than other yellow colors.
4. Avocado pits and skin
Avocado skins and pits are great to create salmon pink and purple. It takes a bit of time to collect enough pits to create a strong dye. After cutting the pits into small pieces, you simmer the skin and pits for an hour. After you leave the brew sit overnight before continuing the dyeing process.
In the old times, people boiled avocado pits and drank them as an antibiotic drink.
5. Nettle tea
Nettle has been a source of natural eco dye for many cultures. Even though collecting the leaves wasn’t the most pleasant job, it’s been used for many health benefits too. So why not use your nettle tea a second time. You will need a bigger amount but it is fun to collect and try to color your old shirt with nettle. Nettle gives soft colors like yellow, grey, green, and kaki.
6. Berry juice
Berries and the juice of berries are very fun to play with. Especially for children, it can be a magical experience.
You can paint your old shirt using a brush and the juice of the berries.
Especially frozen berries that melted give a lot of juice and a lot of fun.
After painting your shirt, dip a piece of cloth in soda and dip another side of the cloth in vinegar. See what color feast will happen before your eyes. Colour of bright pink, beautiful purple and greys will appear.
Berries’ colors will be fugitive, meaning they will disappear as soon as you wash them. But you definitely had a fun afternoon with your kids.
I have been dyeing natural for 7 years and still I’m just starting to figure this wonderful world out called eco-dyeing.
Through trial and error, I learned a lot. Amazement and disappointment, letting go of control and trying again..all been through these moments.
The fun all started with the desire to give a longer life to a washed white baby suit, that wasn’t white anymore.
I read and learned a lot of useful information in books like:
* Wild Color, Jenny Dean
* Eco Colour, India Flint
* Plants are magic, Rebecca Desnos
If you are interested in buying one of my natural eco-dyed cotton shirts, bags and blankets, have a look at the webshop. It can also be made on request.
The most fun projects are the ones I made especially for you.
Fleur and the Wild Herbs