Stop Food Waste Day

April 28th is Stop Food Waste Day

33%

of all food produced globally is lost or wasted every year

45%

of root crops, fruit and vegetables produced globally is lost or wasted per year

$1,866

the annual cost of food wasted by the average American family

25%

of the food wasted globally could feed all 795 million undernourished people in the world

8%

of all greenhouse gas emissions each year are due to food loss and waste*

Food Rescue at the Co-op

Food rescue (limiting as much food waste as we can while prioritizing public health and safety) is embedded in our Ends Statement, the Seven Cooperative Principles, and our Strategic Plan. Fighting food insecurity in our community has always been a priority. Our avenues for donating have not changed, but we have improved our processes to more accurately communicate our efforts with our owners. Learn more by reading our food rescue blog.

Food Rescue Streams

Thanks to recent Green Team efforts, we can better track how our food is rescued.

Donations: We donate items that are still edible but may be damaged or fall shy of cosmetic standards, which means we can’t sell them.

Deli Food Rescue: Sometimes we have a large quantity of an unsellable, but still edible, items. The DFC Deli can use these items in production. 

No Charge: We often have small quantities of edible, but unsellable items. These items are put in the breakroom for staff to take home free of charge. No Charge items also fill up our on-site Freedge. 

Animal Greens: We set aside produce in unsellable quantities, like lettuce trimmings, for shoppers to take home to feed their animals. Animal greens are free – just ask a Produce Specialist about availability. 

Composting: When an item is unsellable and inedible, we compost the food and recycle the packaging when possible. The City of Davis has a great composting facility, accepting even our meat scraps and bones! 

Our Donation Partners

  • Yolo County Food Bank
  • Western Service Workers Association
  • Davis Night Market
  • Davis Community Meals
  • Davis Food Not Bombs
  • The Freedge
  • Yolo County Meals on Wheels
  • Food Recovery Network
  • Tuesday Tables

Reduce Your Food Waste

Shop Bulk

Whether it’s 2 tsp of marjoram or 4 pounds of cremini mushrooms, shopping the Bulk Department can help ensure you buy only what you need. We have many items available in our Bulk Department. Check these aisles first to help curb your food waste. Read our buying in bulk blog for more info.

Be Prepared

You can cut down on your food waste if you have a plan in place! Plan out your meals for the week (including planning when is a good day to eat leftovers!) and make a grocery list before shopping. If you’re really feeling motivated, spend a few hours meal prepping. Read this blog with meal prep tips and a menu for the week!

Fortify your Fridge

If you’ve ever worked in food service or retail, you’ve probably familiar with what it means to FIFO: first in, first out. Applying this same process to your fridge can help cut down on food waste. Store older food in the front of your fridge and newer food in the back. This way, you have a visual reminder of the food you need to eat first.

Be sure you’re storing produce correctly. Proper storage can significantly impact how long your foods stays good.

Make Use of Your Freezer

You can freeze many fruits and vegetables before they go bad. Frozen bananas are an excellent addition to smoothies, herbs can be frozen in butter or oil, and leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Recipes to Limit Food Waste

 

Making your own broth or stock is a great way use ingredients that typically get thrown out (think onion skins and chicken bones). We have excellent recipes for veggie broth and bone broth

Make banana bread with bananas that are dark and mushy. 

Try our Clean-Out-the-Fridge Veggie Fried Rice recipe (pictured) when you have lots of odds and ends in the fridge! It works well with any grain: any kind of rice, quinoa, barley, and kamut are all great options.

Customizable Soup is another good option if you have leftovers that need to get used up.

This Flexible Veggie Casserole is another way to feed the whole family while preventing food waste. 

Keep it Out of the Landfill

 

Compost It

Okay, so some of your food has gone bad. It happens. Instead of tossing it in the trash where it will go to a landfil and produce methane as it breaks down, compost it! The city of Davis collects compost in curbside bins – they can even take meat scraps, bones, and bioplastics labeled “compostable”. 

You can also compost in your home. You get to keep all of that super nourishing compost for your garden if you do! Read our composting guide to learn more.

Keep a log of everything that has to get composted. You may learn that you actually don’t like radishes that much. Maybe you consistantly toss leftovers – next time, cut the recipe in half! 

Donate it

If you have too much in your fridge or pantry, consider bringing unopened pantry items and edible produce to the Freedge at the Co-op! The Freedge is there for folks to take what they need and leave what they don’t. It’s a wonderful way to prevent food waste and strengthen our community bonds. 

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The Intersection of Sustainability

When most people hear the word “sustainability”, the environment is likely the first thing they think of. But true sustainability cannot be achieved if it is viewed through a narrow lens. As we have explored in our blogs throughout this Earth Month, Sustainability is made of three equally important pillars: Environmental, Social and Economic. When we have three pillars of equal importance, we must understand and acknowledge how they all intersect and rely upon one another. If we wish to improve one pillar, we must work to improve all pillars.

For those born into privilege, social and economic sustainability are topics that can often be ignored. And while many that possess this outlook can also ignore the importance of environmental sustainability, there is no denying that the long-term effects of climate change will impact the livelihoods of all people – regardless of social or economic standing. With that said, however, it will be the most vulnerable people across the world that bear the biggest brunt of climate change impacts.

Historically marginalized groups such as women, people with disabilities, Indigenous people, ethnic minorities, LGBTQIA+, migrant workers, and others often face both social discrimination and economic distress. People that face these socioeconomic challenges currently struggle with access to clean water, food security, adequate healthcare, and many other factors that will only worsen in the event of climate related crises. It should also be noted that making environmentally sustainable choices is not always accessible for poor and marginalized groups. The counterintuitive reality is that environmentally sustainable options in our daily life can be expensive and unavailable in certain regions. As it stands now, solar power, electric vehicles, compostable packaging, etc. are all options that are more expensive than their less sustainable counterparts. Without well thought out and inclusive policies that address the large-scale changes that need to take place, climate change mitigation measures, as well as inaction, will continue to be a high financial burden on poor households.

In order to truly address issues that face both Environmental and Economic sustainability, we must improve all of our systems of societal function by making them more equitable and diverse. If we are to truly attack issues that face all communities, we must engage all communities by creating an even playing field. It is critical that all people are brought along in the decision-making process when it comes to climate change solutions. Transparency and access to information, community engagement and investments in green growth solutions that are offered to historically marginalized groups will create an opportunity to positively uplift all three of these pillars. Diverse communities bring unique perspectives, skills, and knowledge that can help us collectively address climate change. The changes that can come from these initiatives can create new policies and jobs that can uplift economies around the world. Finite natural resource mining does not create long-term economic sustainability, but new necessary changes can.

This is by no means a comprehensive look at the total impact of the pillars of sustainability. This is such a multifaceted topic that we hope you have become more interested in during this Earth Month. Take a look below some of our favorite local organizations that are focused on these different forms of sustainability.

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Earth Month – Economic Sustainability

Economic sustainability is the “profit” in the “people, planet, and profit” holistic approach to sustainability. We’ve already explored environmental sustainability and social sustainability in previous blogs, so this week, we’ll focus on what it means to have a sustainable economy.

What is economic sustainability?

Before we tackle economic sustainability, here’s a reminder of the basic definition of sustainability: sustainability is the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs or diminishing the opportunities of the future. 

According to the Global Footprint Network, in 2020, we reached Earth’s natural resource budget for the year on August 22nd, which means all of the natural resources we used after August 22nd, 2020 were taken from future years’ budgets. This is, by definition, not sustainable. 

For the last several hundred years, capitalism has been the most efficient economic system for meeting the material needs and wants of society (major asterisk here: capitalism meets most of the material needs and wants for particular groups, mostly in Western countries). In this system, development, industrialization, and production are inherently dependent on natural and human resources, which, at this point, are rapidly depleting. The bottom line: capitalist economies, being inherently dependent on those resources, are not sustainable. 

In a sustainable economy, these resources are not depleted or “borrowed” from future generations. Economic sustainability is deeply enmeshed with both social sustainability (human resources) and environmental sustainability (natural resources). We will explore the intersection of the three in next week’s blog!

Is there an alternative? 

Laying out an entirely new economic system is, unfortunately, beyond the scope of this blog. But if you’re feeling like our unsustainable economy is a major bummer, we are here to tell you there are alternatives to traditional capitalist models which operate within our system to make our economy more sustainable.

Cooperatives

That’s right! Cooperative businesses offer a more sustainable approach to the profit side of things. A cooperative is “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled enterprise.” Co-ops, whether they are owned by workers, consumers, or producers, are guided by the Seven Cooperative Principles. Six of these Principles directly contribute to economic sustainability.  

#1 Voluntary Membership: Membership, or ownership, in a co-op is open to anyone willing to accept the responsibilities of ownership and who want to use the services of the co-op. At the Davis Food Co-op, ownership is open to anyone regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, political or religious beliefs or any other qualifications. Because of this, co-op membership and, in turn, governance, is more widely accessible than in traditional business models. 

#2 Democratic Member Control: Co-ops are controlled by their members who have power over policy and decision making. In our upcoming election, Davis Food Co-op owners will have the opportunity to vote on which community organizations will receive Round Up funds and choose three new Directors for the Board. 

#3 Member Economic Participation: Members contribute to the capital of the co-op democratically and equitably. Investing in the Co-op by becoming an owner means investing in local farmers and producers that offer sustainably sourced natural foods and products.

#4 Autonomy and Independence: Co-ops are meant to be autonomous and democratically controlled. The Davis Food Co-op isn’t run by folks hundreds of miles away. We answer to our owners who we live and work beside. 

#6 Cooperation Among Cooperatives: Co-ops often work together to create regional, national and international structures that help to improve communities. While it is essential that co-ops are able to compete in the markets in which they operate, we also know that strong, connected networks set co-ops apart from traditional businesses and make them more resilient to outside shocks.  

#7 Concern for Community: Policies set forth by owners should positively and sustainably contribute to the community a co-op belongs to. You can read about the Davis Food Co-op’s efforts here, here, and here

B Corps

Another alternative to traditional for-profit business models is the B Corporation. B Corps are “a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.” The Co-op carries many products from certified B Corps. You can see us highlight many of them on our social media platforms throughout this month.

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All Natural Allergy Relief

Seasonal allergies aren’t fun for anyone! Try these natural remedies to alleviate your symptoms.

Stay Hydrated

It seems like no matter what the ailment, staying hydrated is one way to prevent or improve it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is the case for seasonal allergies as well. 

First, a petite science lesson: Histamine is a compound made by our bodies that regulates physiological functions in the gut, acts as a neurotransmitter in our brain and spinal cord, and is involved in inflammation and immune responses. You’ve likely heard about histamine in conversations about seasonal allergies. This is because symptoms of elevated histamine levels include runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, hives, sneezing, nausea, and headache. Sound familiar? When we are dehydrated, our bodies produce more histamine in an attempt to help retain water. Unfortunately, this triggers seasonal allergy symptoms. 

Technically, staying hydrated won’t prevent or treat an allergic reaction, but drinking enough water can help maintain normal histamine levels in your body.

Regular Cleaning 

This may be a bit of a bummer to hear, but regular, thorough cleaning of a few key things in your home can help reduce your exposure to allergens which trigger seasonal allergy symptoms. The good news is, you’ll feel better and your home will be so clean! We recently wrote a blog about natural home cleaning with 19 easy, safe, and inexpensive DIY cleaning products. 

Vacuum regularly

If you’re an allergy sufferer, make sure you’re vacuuming your floors, rather than sweeping them as brooms do a very good job of kicking up all kids of dust and debris into the air. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends vacuuming twice a week with a vacuum outfitted with a HEPA filter.

Dust weekly

Weekly dusting is highly effective against seasonal allergies. Skip the feather duster and opt for a microfiber cloth instead. Microfiber is designed to grab tiny particles, which means you’ll actually remove the dust from your home. 

Wash your sheets

Your sheets are covered in potential allergens: human and pet hair, dander, pollen, dust mites, and a whole host of other creepy crawlies that can irritate your immune system. Wash your sheets (especially your pillow cases) once a week. If you get bad allergies, you’ll want to vacuum your comforter twice a week and your mattress cover once a month as well.

You can find the following natural allergy remedies in the Co-op’s Wellness Department. If you need help finding something specific, stop by the Wellness Desk and ask one of our Wellness Specialists!

Saline Nasal Irrigation

Sometimes called a sinus flush, saline nasal irrigation can help ease stuffy noses and make it a little easier to breathe when you have seasonal allergies. Rinsing your nasal passages with salt water can help restore moisture to your mucous membranes and ease inflammation. Some folks prefer daily irrigation during allergy season to help keep inflammation under control.

Butterbur 

You may have heard that butterbur can be very effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of migraines (researchers at the National Institutes of Health have found this to be the case), but evidence is emerging in favor of butterbur as a treatment for seasonal allergies as well. One study found its participants’ allergy symptoms improved after just 5 days of taking a butterbur supplement by mouth. Scientists attribute this to butterbur’s ability to block allergy-producing leukotriene and histamine.

Quercetin

Quercetin is an antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables including onions and apples. Researches at the National Institutes of Health found it has antihistamine properties as well (it’s actually the most common plant compound found in conventional allergy treatments). Quercetin eases allergy symptoms by decreasing inflammation in our airways.

Stinging Nettle Leaf

Although research has come back with mixed results, stinging nettle has been and continues to be a popular treatment for seasonal allergies. Stinging nettle reduces sneezing, runny noses, and itchy eyes by lowering inflammation. Stinging nettle can best be used in combination with other natural allergy remedies like quercetin.

Turmeric

Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Emerging research suggests ingesting turmeric regularly may help relieve symptoms caused by seasonal allergies as well. Whether you take turmeric as a supplement or use it in meal preparations, be sure to take black pepper along with it as black pepper increases the bioavailability of curcumin by up to 2,000 percent! 

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Earth Month – Social Sustainability

As mentioned in our environmental sustainability blog post, capital “S” Sustainability is multifaceted. Of the three major branches of sustainability, social sustainability can be difficult to get a grip on. It is tough to quantify and can therefore feel nebulous, which is why it’s often overlooked. However, social sustainability is integral for the health of people, planet, and profit moving forward.

What is social sustainability? 

Calls for social sustainability have emerged in recent decades as community members and world leaders see injustice, unrest, sickness, and misery in many of our communities. There are many definitions of social sustainability, but we like this one from the Western Australia Council of Social Services:

 “Social sustainability occurs when the formal and informal processes; systems; structures; and relationships actively support the capacity of current and future generations to create healthy and livable communities. Socially sustainable communities are equitable, diverse, connected and democratic and provide a good quality of life.

To get your head in the social sustainability zone, consider these social sustainability performance issues: human rights, fair labor practices, living conditions, health, safety, wellness, diversity, equity, work-life balance, empowerment, community engagement, philanthropy, volunteerism, and access to green spaces. When these elements are in abundance and in balance for everyone in a community, that community is strong –  in other words, it is sustainable. This kind of society is better able to respond to and recover from internal and external shocks. 

We know that the global climate crisis disproportionately affects people of color, LGBTQIA+ folks, women, formerly colonized countries, and low income families and communities. Practicing social sustainability and building communities which are equitable, diverse, connected and democratic, and provide a good quality of life will help insulate vulnerable groups from the disproportionate effects of climate change. Beyond environmental justice, social sustainability practices effectuate economic, social, and racial justice as well.

You can find a great video explaining social sustainability further here

Social sustainability and the Co-op

While many aspects of creating socially sustainable communities should fall to municipal, state, and federal governments, businesses, like the Co-op, have an important role to play as well. We would even go so far as to say businesses have a responsibility to engender social sustainability in the communities in which they operate. The 7th Cooperative Principle, concern for community, guides the Co-op’s social sustainability efforts. In addition to regularly donating to community organizations and hosting community events, we strive towards social sustainability as an employer (e.g. every Co-op employee earns a living wage). This year, we’re working with National Co-op Grocers to more closely examine our social sustainability efforts, including diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Next steps

If you’re wondering what you can do to be more socially sustainable, you can start here. Volunteering for community organizations or donating to mutual aid organizations is a great way to get involved with your community, but be sure to adjust your perspective. Don’t think of donating time or money as “charity”. Think of it as solidarity and community building. 

If you own or operate a business, think about what you can do for your employees. Can you offer your employees longer breaks or make healthcare available to them? Maybe you can make biking to work a little easier or make a serious effort to actively hire from groups that have historically been excluded from the workplace. 

Communities won’t become sustainable overnight. Environmental, social, and economic sustainability efforts will require hard work from nearly everyone. If you are feeling overwhelmed, know that you are not alone. Stay tuned for our next blog post about economic sustainability.

Join us for a celebration of our planet!

We will be closing down a portion of the Davis Food Co-op parking lot for a collection of activities, information, community organizations, giveaway, a plant swap, music and food. Stop by between 12-4 pm on Sunday, April 18th. 

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Earth Month – Environmental Sustainability

Happy Earth Month! Earth Day is right around the corner, and this time of year gets everyone thinking about the environment and climate change. Environmental sustainability is a broad topic, from waste production and recycling to agriculture and transportation pollution. We will brush over a few of these topics, what the Co-op does to mitigate them, and how you can help and love the Earth! Join us on April 18th from 12 pm to 4 pm in the parking lot of the Co-op to meet many local organizations, creators, and artists who educate on and create with sustainability at the forefront! 

The Davis Food Co-op formed the Green Team early last year to track our environmental sustainability efforts and to find ways to improve storewide. We have drought-tolerant landscaping and a drip irrigation system to conserve water. We work with Recology, TerraCycle, ReCork, and others to reduce waste and improve diversion, along with store-wide sustainability training that covers waste sorting and greenwashing. Our produce department makes organic and local the priority, this reduces agricultural pollution from many conventional practices and local means less driving, transportation, and emissions! We track most of our sustainability metrics with the help of the National Cooperative Grocers and track our food waste and rescue by department, read more about this on our Food Rescue blog. 

The best thing for shoppers to do is stay up to date and educated on sustainability philosophies and practices. We recommend Defining Flourishing: A Frank Conversation About Sustainability by John R. Ehrenfeld and Andrew J. Hoffman to get you started. Read up on our blog page, under the sustainability sections to learn about small changes you can make in your day-to-day life that can reduce your carbon footprint, like DIY beeswax wraps and conserving food scraps to make broth. 

Sustainability is multifaceted. Not everything above or in our sustainability blog is economically feasible for everyone, and the effects of climate change are socially disproportionate. We have three more blogs later this month that will cover social and economic sustainability and the intersection of all three. Stay tuned. 

Written by Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist

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Natural Home Cleaning

Natural Cleaning Essentials

Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the most versatile home cleaning ingredients. It’s a natural deodorizer, softens water, and cleans up proteins, grease, and animal messes. Baking soda is mildly abrasive, which makes it a safe option for scouring, plus it’s pretty inexpensive. 

Castile Soap

Unscented liquid or bar soap, like castile soap, will clean just about anything. Castile soap starts with a vegetable oil base and is biodegradable. Look for one without petroleum distillates.

Lemons and Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a strong acid and is effective against most household bacteria.

4 ways to use lemons

  • Rub a slice of lemon over a cutting board or chopping block to reduce bacteria
  • Toss a halved lemon in your garbage disposal to keep it smelling fresh
  • Use lemon juice to clean discolored utensils
  • Remove scratches on furniture or buff marble tabletops

Distilled White Vinegar

If you had just two natural cleaning products in your home, go with baking soda and distilled white vinegar. Use to wipe away grease and soap scum and to prevent and remove mold and wax build-up. As a mild acid, it can remove coffee, tea, and rust stains as well. Vinegar will be the base for many of the homemade cleaning products in this blog post. 

Vegetable or Olive Oil

Use vegetable or olive oil in homemade hardwood and shoe polishes. 

Hydrogen Peroxide

You probably already have hydrogen peroxide in your first aid kit for disinfecting wounds. You can use it to disinfect surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom too. It also has a mild bleaching effect making it a good stain remover option for fabrics and grout. It may cause some skin or respiratory irritation, so handle with care. That being said, it’s generally considered safer to use than bleach and will break down into water and oxygen, unlike bleach which can form dangerous fumes when mixed with common ingredients in other cleaning products.

Onions

It’s almost grilling season, which means it’s time to dust the ‘ol grill off after its long winter nap! Using a long grilling fork, rub half of an onion back and forth along the hot grates to remove grime and grit. 

Essential Oils

Essential oils aren’t strictly essential, but they can enhance many home cleaning products. Tea tree, lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, lemongrass, and orange essential oils are the go-tos, but you can incorporate many others in your home cleaning routine. Some, like tea tree oil, are naturally antibacterial.

Homemade Cleaning Products

These recipes are intended to be less harmful alternatives for commercial cleaning products. In many cases, they’re less expensive too. Before applying any cleaning solutions, test in small areas. Always label homemade cleaning products and keep well out of the reach of children.

All Purpose Cleaner

  • ½ cup distilled white vinegar
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • ½ gallon water
  • Spray bottle
  • Optional: 20 drops lemon or orange essential oil

Mix together and transfer to a spray bottle. Use for removal of water deposit stains, chrome bathroom fixtures, windows, mirrors, etc.

Countertops

Granite and marble: Use castile soap and water for everyday cleaning. If you need a disinfectant, use hydrogen peroxide. Avoid using acidic cleaners like lemon and vinegar. 

Other countertops: The all purpose cleaner recipe above works on surfaces other than granite and marble.

Bathroom Mold Deterrent

  • 1 part hydrogen peroxide
  • 2 parts water
  • Spray bottle

Mix together hydrogen peroxide and water in a spray bottle. Spray on areas prone to mold. Wait one hour before rinsing or using the shower. 

Carpet Freshener

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 20 drops of your favorite essential oil

Mix together baking soda and essential oil. Sprinkle liberally on carpet. Vacuum after a few hours.

Ceramic or Glass Stovetop Cleaner

Daily cleaning can be done with castile soap and water or the all purpose cleaner above. To remove tough bits of blackened food, wet the area with hot soapy water, sprinkle with baking soda, and cover with a damp towel. After 30 minutes, wipe away with a clean damp cloth. 

Clothing Stain Remover

Not all stains are created equally. However, vinegar can be used to remove many food stains. Spray thoroughly prior to washing. A 1:1 hydrogen peroxide and water solution can be used for grass and underarm stains. Use the same process as vinegar stain remover. 


Drain Cleaner (metal pipes only, do not use with plastic pipes)

Light cleaning: Heat 1 gallon of water and ½ cup salt on the stove. Do not boil. Pour down the drain. 

Heavy cleaning: Pour ½ cup baking soda down the drain, then pour ½ cup vinegar. After 15 minutes, pour in boiling water to clear residue. Do not use this cleaner after trying a commercial drain opener as the resulting chemical reaction can create dangerous fumes.  

Garbage Disposal Cleaner

Run garbage disposal with hot water and a handful of citrus peels for 20 seconds. Use heavy cleaning method above to remove fatty acid build up. 

Cleaning Walls and other Painted Surfaces

Ink spots and marks from pencils, crayons, or markers can be cleaned using baking soda applied to a damp sponge. Rub gently, wipe, and rinse. 

Floor Cleaner and Polish

Vinyl and linoleum: Mix 1 cup vinegar and a few drops of olive oil in a gallon of warm water. Use conservatively on linoleum. 

Wood: For regular cleaning use a solution of ¼ cup vinegar and ½ a gallon of warm water. Be sure you know what finish was used on your wood floors before using water. Test a small area first and use a barely damp mop to avoid harming finish. For polishing, apply a thin coat of 1:1 vegetable oil and vinegar. 

Brick and stone tiles: Mix 1 cup vinegar in 1 gallon of water. Rinse with clean water.

Furniture Polish

  • 5 drops lemon essential oil
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Spray bottle

Mix lemon essential oil, warm water, and olive oil. Spray lightly onto a soft cotton cloth. Wipe furniture with cloth. Finish by wiping furniture again with dry soft cotton cloth.

Moth Deterrent

Dry citrus peels in a 200 degree F oven for 2-4 hours, flipping every 30 minutes. Place citrus peels in cheesecloth and secure in your closet. 

Oil and Grease 

For spills on the garage floor or driveway, sprinkle liberally with baking soda and scrub with a wet brush. Rinse with water. 

Oven Cleaner

  • ¾ cup baking soda
  • ¼ cup salt
  • ¼ cup water, plus more

Mix baking soda, salt, and ¼ cup water to make a thick paste. Dampen the oven interior with water using a clean sponge. Apply paste to the oven interior, but avoid bare metal and any openings. Allow the paste to sit overnight. Remove with silicone spatula and wipe clean. Fine steel wool can help remove tough grime. 

Scouring Powder

For your stovetop, fridge, and other surfaces that should not be scratched, apply baking soda directly. Rub gently with a damp sponge. 

Shoe Polish

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • A few drops of lemon juice

Apply solution to shows with a thick cotton towel. Leave for a few minutes and wipe away with a clean, dry rag.

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Dyeing Fabric with Kitchen Scraps

Plant Dyed Fabrics

This blog is an introduction to dyeing fabrics with plants. We won’t be using any fancy equipment or mordants here (we’ll get back to that later) – just plants, water, and the fabric you wish to dye. While there are many plants which can be used to dye fabric, this blog will focus on dyes derived from common kitchen scraps: avocado skins and stones, red and yellow onion skins, and carrot tops. 

Using kitchen scraps to dye fabrics is a wonderful way to use plant parts that would otherwise be composted. You may wish to give new life to old or thrifted clothes or use plants to dye bolts of fabric and yarn. Either way, this project is fun, can easily be done over the weekend, and is family friendly. 

Experimentation is a key part of this process. If you fall in love with plant dyeing, try other plants from your garden (nettles make a beautiful slate blue) or pantry (sumac produces a deep burgundy shade). Keep a journal about your process/results, test fabric swatches, and get creative with patterns!

Choosing your Fabric

We recommend using natural fabrics like cotton, wool, or silk. You can use synthetic fabrics, but colors tend to be softer and splotchier, which may be exactly what you’re looking for. All of the fabrics you’ll see in this blog post are 100% cotton. Even though we’re using natural fibers, you’ll want to wash fabrics before dyeing them to ensure an even, saturated color. 

Speaking of evenness, anything with a seam (think clothing) will likely produce an uneven finish. This isn’t a bad thing though! Intentionally, or unintentionally, uneven dyes can be beautiful. While the plant dye and fabrics do their thing, colors can vary widely (more on that later), so accepting that you’re just along for the ride can help you see the beauty in what you’re doing.

Plants

Avocado Skins and Stones Scrape away as much flesh from the skins as possible. Set on a sunny windowsill to dry. Gently wash away avocado flesh from stones. Store in a paper bag until ready to use or freeze for longer storage (up to three months). 

Carrot Tops Use stem and leafy parts. Use immediately or store in the freezer for up to three days. 

Red and Yellow Onion Skins Peel away outer layers of onions. Set skins on a sunny windowsill to dry. Store in a paper bag until ready to use or freeze for longer storage (up to three months).

Colors

As a general rule, the more plant material you have, the deeper your dye will be.

  • avocado skins and stones: pinky peach
  • red onion skins: pale pink/mauve/brown
  • avocado skins + red onion skins: orange-y peach
  • yellow onion skins: yellow/brown
  • carrot tops: green/pale green
  • yellow onion skins + carrot tops: yellow/pale yellow
Dye vs stain

While many plants can be used to change the color of a fabric, not all of them are actual dyes. Plants like spinach, turmeric, and beets will stain your fabric blue, yellow, and pink, respectively, but the colors will fade with time and washes in a matter of weeks to months. Plants that dye fabric release pigments which bind to the fabric’s fibers. While these dyes may gradually fade over time, the color will hold for years.  

Mordants

A mordant is a substance which helps the pigments from plants bind to the fibers in your fabric. If you’re dying plant fibers like cotton and you want a vibrant shade, you may want to use a mordant, but this is optional. Animal fibers like wool and silk tend to have an easier time binding with pigments. One of the easiest mordants to use is unsweetened soy milk. After you wash your fabrics, you can soak them in soy milk, lightly ring out, and then allow to air dry before dyeing. 

A note on colors

Colors can vary widely depending on many factors. One avocado skin may produce a bright pink, while another dusty rose. Red onion skins may give you pale mauve or a deeper brown. Color can also vary depending on the material you’re dyeing. Cotton may take carrot tops differently than wool, for example. The water you use can also affect the final color outcome. All of that is to say, your dyes may look very different from those in this post, but this is all part of the fun! Allow this process to surprise and delight you.

Materials

  • large pot

  • plants you’re using to dye with

  • fabric that you are dyeing 

  • wooden spoon

  • gloves (only necessary if you wish to avoid temporarily dyeing your hands)

  • optional: strips of fabric to create patterns

Steps

1. Pre-wash the fabric you wish to dye with a gentle fabric soap by soaking fabric in soap and warm or hot water for several hours or overnight. Rinse and keep damp before adding to your dye pot. 

2. Fill your dye pot with enough water to cover the material you wish to dye. There should be enough water so fabric can move freely around the pot. Add plant material to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20-40 minutes. You’ll see the water gradually deepen in color. The longer you simmer, the darker the color generally. 

 

3. Begin soaking your fabric. You can begin the soak while the pot is still simmering. You can even simmer for an additional hour with your fabric in the dye pot. Remove from heat and steep for several hours to overnight. Animal fibers should soak for at least 12 hours but up to 24 hours. With a wooden spoon, stir the pot every time you think about it or walk by to encourage an even shade. The longer the fabric soaks, the more vibrant the final product.  

You can use strips of fabric to create patterns in your dye. Cut an old t-shirt or kitchen cloth into thin strips to tie tightly where you don’t want dye. Stripes are the easiest! Some cloth (red and pink mostly) may transfer its color onto the fabric you’re dyeing so use white/undyed fabric if you don’t want dye transfered. 

4. When your fabric has reached your desired shade, remove it from the pot. Rinse in warm or cool water and gentle fabric soap. Hang dry. 

5. Wash your plant dyed fabrics in cold water and dry on the lowest heat setting or air-dry for long-lasting color.

King sized pillow case dyed with carrot tops and yellow onion skins. Fabric strips create a striped pattern. Soaked in dye pot for 3 hours.

Small cotton pouch dyed with avocado skins and red onion skins. Soaked in dye pot for 3 hours. 

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