Use this same method with onion skins.
I often think I’ll reach the bottom of the zero-waste rabbit hole any day now but keep finding fun and useful ways to repurpose “waste,” such as making a pink dye with avocado pits. After recently sewing produce bags out of plain white cotton fabric someone donated to the Reusa-Bags project, I thought they could use some color.
To dye the produce bags, I followed (mostly) instructions on NPR’s website from Eliza Wapner of Lil Bits Cloth. I didn’t use the optional vinegar, alum and soda ash, which would make the color last longer. But I’m dyeing produce bags not a prom dress so I’m not too worried about how long the color lasts.
At Christmas, I wrapped gifts in these bags and tied the ends closed with bits of yard my kids had left on the couch where they had been knitting. After everyone opened their gifts on Christmas morning, I tucked the produce bags back in the cupboard where I store them—no wrapping to toss!
Save your avocado pits
After eating an avocado or finding the remnants of an eaten avocado on the kitchen counter, I quickly scrub off any flesh sticking to the pit and set it on a dish to dry out on the counter over several days. Even if your pits seems dry, don’t store them in a closed container or pile them up in a bowl or open jar as they can develop mold in a crowd. These antisocial pits need their space.
You could also use fresh avocado pits for your dye. As much as my daughter and I love avocados, we don’t eat enough in one go to make dye. So I squirrel them away as I get them.
How to dye the fabric
- 5 cotton produce bags
- stock pot large enough for bags to float around in
- metal spoon
- clothes line or drying rack
- large bowl
- ½ teaspoon mild dish detergent
- 6 avocado pits
- Simmer 5 bags in a large stock pot of water with ½ teaspoon of mild dish detergent. Stir the bags continuously for the first two minutes, then every 10 minutes for an hour. The water turns quite yellow. This step washes the fabric and prepares it to take the dye.
- Remove the bags, wring them out and hang them to dry on the line.
- Start the dye in the now empty pot. Simmer 6 avocado pits in water for an hour. (You can also use avocado skins but I didn’t.) Turn off the heat and let the dye sit overnight covered.
- Wet the bags by soaking them in a large bowl of water.
- Remove the avocado pits from the dye (and skins if you used them) and feed them to the compost bin. Bring the pot of dye to a boil.
- Wring the water out of the bags. Set the bowl of water aside to reuse in the last step. Immerse the bags in the pot of boiling dye. Stir continuously for the first two minutes, then every 10 minutes for an hour.
- Remove the bags, rinse them in the reserved bowl of water, wring them out and hang to dry. The color looks darker when wet. They’ll dry a lighter shade.
If you’d like to dye more fabric later, store the dye in the refrigerator for about a week. It won’t keep indefinitely there—it is made from food after all.
Check out my award-winning cookbook!
My book won silver for single-subject cookbooks at the Taste Canada awards! It also won a second-place Gourmand cookbook award in the category of food waste. And it was shortlisted for an award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals.