From avocado pits to turmeric powder

Ocean Rose with yarn she dyed.

We were a couple months into quarantine when my best friend announced to me that they had started dyeing their clothes with things they found around their kitchen.

First there was a cropped knit dyed a brilliant yellow by turmeric root, then a button-up turned pink with the help of some beets. When we met up in a park to wave hello at our first socially-distant hangout, they picked a few small fistfuls of green grass to take home and experiment with, too.

While the grass dye didn’t have quite the effect intended (it turned a white T-shirt “the faintest faintest brown,” they later told me), their interest in it helped me to start seeing all kinds of plants around me — from my kitchen waste to the flower petals strewn on the ground in the nearby cemetery — as potential natural dye materials. Of course, that attitude is nothing new to experts in the space.

That is one of the many aspects of natural dyes that I love — the wide range of fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go into the waste cycle which can be reused to make natural dyes,” Keila Tirado-Leist, the natural dyer behind Vida Botanicals, told me via email.\