Easter Projects – Natural Egg Dyes, Living Grass Baskets & More

Easter weekend is approaching which means it’s time to boil the eggs and get the baskets ready!

Here are some fun eco-friendly twists on traditional Easter projects.

Naturally Dyed Eggs

Clockwise from top: blueberries+turmeric, red onion skins, blueberries, turmeric, red cabbage. Center egg: beets. Photo Credit: Andrea Pacheco

Naturally Dyed Eggs

Using fruits, vegetables and herbs from your kitchen is a great alternative to artificial dyes for decorating eggs.   You can boil the dye ingredients with the eggs to save yourself the extra step of hardboiling the eggs first (hot dye method) or you can prepare the natural dye separately and submerge the already hardboiled eggs in the cold dye (cold dye method).  The hot dye method often produces darker results (and overcooked eggs if you try to create a very dark color).  The cold dye method is better for kids who want to dye the eggs themselves or if you definitely want to eat the eggs.

What you’ll need:

  • Eggs
  • Dye Ingredients (see below for ideas)
  • White vinegar
  • Alum powder (optional)
  • Pots for boiling eggs and dye
  • Cups or mason jars for soaking eggs in the dye
Naturally Dyed Eggs

Clockwise from top right: beets (white egg), red cabbage, blueberries+turmeric, turmeric (white egg), turmeric (brown egg), beets (brown egg), beets (brown egg), turmeric (brown egg), red onion skins, red cabbage, beets (white egg), blueberries. Photo Credit: Andrea Pacheco via Flickr

Suggested dye ingredients:

  • Red:  red onion skins, cranberries, cranberry juice, raspberries
  • Orange:  chili powder
  • Gold:  yellow onion skins
  • Yellow:  ground turmeric (1 T per cup of water)
  • Green: spinach (shredded) or mix blueberries and tumeric
  • Blue:  red cabbage (shredded)
  • Purple/Grey:  blueberries (crushed)
  • Pink:  beets (chopped), Concord grape juice
  • Brown:  coffee grounds, tea bags, pomegranate juice

Instructions for dyeing the eggs

Hot Dye Method

  1. Add the dye ingredient and eggs to a pot of water.  Use enough water to cover the dye ingredient and the eggs.  You can experiment with adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar per quart of water and/or alum powder to the water to enhance various colors.
  2. Bring water to a boil.
  3. If you want eggs you can eat, cover the pot immediately after the water boils and turn off the heat.  Cover the pot for 10-15 minutes.  If you want a darker colored egg and don’t mind overcooking the eggs, continue soak until the desired shade is achieved.
  4. After the eggs have been in the water for the desired amount of time, pour off the hot dye (you can strain it and save the dye to use for the cold dye method later if you like).  Add ice water to the pot of eggs to stop the cooking (if you plan to eat them) and set the color.

Cold Dye Method

  1. Hard boil the eggs and cool.
  2. Boil dye ingredient in 2 cups of water until desired hue is reached.
  3. Strain the dye into a cup for dipping and cool.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the cup of dye.
  5. Submerge hard boiled eggs into the cup of dye until the egg is the desired shade.

Dyes, left to right: beet, turmeric, red cabbage, raspberry zinger tea, blueberry. Photo Credit: Andrea Pacheco

 

 

Keep in mind that the eggs will need to stay submerged in the natural dye for a longer period of time to reach a darker hue compared to the time required for artificial dye.  If you want to leave them in the dye for a very long time I recommend using masonry jars and soaking the eggs in the refrigerator overnight.  Tip:  cool clean eggs work best with the cold dye method.  Wipe the eggs clean with vinegar to help them absorb the color.

Check here for more natural egg dyeing instructions.

 

Living Grass Easter Basket

Live Grass Pots

Photo Credit: Will Merydith

Easter baskets lined with living grass are a soft and natural alternative to baskets filled with non-biodegradeable plastic grass.  There probably isn’t enough time to plant your own living Easter basket (try this next next year!) but there is another option.

What you’ll need:

  • Baskets – Use durable baskets that can be reused or make your own out of egg cartons, recycled grocery bags or construction paper.
  • Wheatgrass – Check your local Whole Foods or other natural foods store for small containers and flats wheatgrass.  Wheatgrass is commonly available for juicing and can often be found in mainstream markets as well.
  • Basket liner – Use naturally waxed paper (conventional waxed paper is coated with petroleum based paraffin wax), a plastic bread bag or other plastic bag that you’d be tossing anyway or a reusable planting tray from your local nursery that will fit inside the basket (don’t forget to take the baskets to the nursery with you for size comparison if you decide to use a planting tray).
  • Organic potting soil
  • Craft knife or garden shears

Steps:

  1. Line the baskets with your liner of choice – waxed paper, reused plastic or reusable tray.
  2. Fill the lined basket with an inch of potting soil.
  3. Use a craft knife or garden shears to cut out a section of wheatgrass for each basket.  You may need to use multiple sections of grass to fill each basket depending on the size and shape of the basket(s) you are using.
  4. Place the wheatgrass “sod” layer on top of the soil and pat down.
  5. Water lightly and daily until a day or two before Easter (you don’t want the grass to be wet when you fill the basket with goodies).
Live Grass Basket

Photo Credit: Photographer Unknown

Keep the baskets in a spot where they won’t be disturbed and be sure to keep the soil moist.  Fill with goodies as close to your Easter celebration as possible.  After Easter you can remove the grass from the basket (just lift out the grass with the liner) and let your cats enjoy their own patch of “kitty grass”.  Or more the grass to a spot outside and watch it continue to grow.  You can also juice it!  Or throw it in your compost pile after it’s dried out.

 

Eco-Friendly Ideas for the Basket

Shredded paper – If living grass isn’t your thing, use a paper shredder to make your own Easter “grass” out of junk mail, construction paper, newspaper or whatever recyclable/biodegradable paper you’d like to use.

Sweet treats – Look for organic and/or fair trade chocolate to fill your baskets.

Toys – Choose eco-friendly toys for your Easter celebration.

 

Enjoy your creations!

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