Sustainability to Dye For: How to Dye Clothes and Fabric With Food

In Sonoma County, you can add a splash of sustainable color to fabric, clothes and yarn with the help of local workshops and artisans.

Hold on to your avocado pits and onion skins! Besides being discardable trophies of your cooking-from-scratch skills—that might have resulted in a perfect guacamole, stew or soup—they can be put to good use before they hit the compost. Throw them in vats of water to extract their essence and you’ve got yourself a natural dye bath for clothing, fabric or yarn. Avocado pits yield pink, onion skins make yellow.

According to to Fiber Circle Studio founder Alisha Reyes, who recently led a workshop at the Gravenstein Apple Fair, there are special techniques to this particular form of dyeing, including pre-washing fabrics and using mordants to set the color — but the outcome is always different. And it’s that surprise element that makes natural dyeing especially appealing to Reyes.

“Natural dyeing is something our community is beginning to come back around to. I believe it is important to understand where our color comes from, and how it affects our environment now and in the future,” says Reyes.

Down-to-earth, artisan rich Sonoma County has many sources for natural dye know-how and tools. Click through the above gallery for more information.