Naturally Dyed. Artisanal. Sustainable.
Naturally Dyed. Artisanal. Sustainable.
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Wearing zero-waste on your shirt sleeves: Is there a place for kitchen scraps in your wardrobe?

Eco Friendly Living Ethically Made Food waste Kitchen scraps Natural Dye Organic Sustainable Living True cost of colour Zero-waste


Avocado dyed light pink hemp t-shirt by Juniper & Bliss, made in their natural dye studio in Kent

The impact on the environment of our patterns of consumption (food, fuel and fashion) is complex. How to reduce food waste, amongst other changes in the way we live concern us all as we navigate the choppy waters of sustainability and mindful living. We know that fifth to a quarter  of the food bought by UK household consumers amounts to a staggering 70% of all food waste, whilst the remaining 30% is happening in the hospitality & food service (HaFS), food manufacture, retail and wholesale sectors.

Red onion skins for natural dyeing by Juniper & Bliss in Faversham, Kent.


At the same time, we are keenly aware of the environmental impact of fashion, especially from the toxic soup of chemical dyes on textile workers’ health, Fashion Revolution, the world's largest fashion activism platform born out of the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013, sums up how the soil and the water carry the true cost of colour. 


Pomegranate skins used for natural dye for ethical fashion by Juniper & Bliss in faversham, Kent, UK.

Whilst natural dye would be a great alternative, in reality, it cannot, on its own, satisfy the ever-growing demand for textile dye. The 1859 Neel Bidroho or the Indigo Revolt in Bengal is an historic reminder of the ills of turning agricultural farms into growing dye crops. The tension between subsistence farming and cash cropping is no less in today’s world, with its ever-decreasing resources.

Vintage cotton napkin naturally dyed with pomegranate skins by Juniper & Bliss in Faversham, Kent UK. Slow fashion, ethically make.

 So on the one hand we have a mountain of food waste and on the other a crisis of dyestuff in the textiles industry. What if the mutually complementary slow food and slow fashion movements worked to address an environmental problem and collaborated to create natural dye? With the right will and organization is it not entirely conceivable that the mountains of food waste can become part of the solution, bypassing the reliance on farming or “foraging” from fragile eco-systems for natural dyestuff? As sustainability becomes a mainstream concern, we need to find more innovative and engaging ways to deal with the surplus, re-evaluate “waste” and alter our perception round disposability. 

 Woollen scarf naturally dyed with onion skin by Juniper & Bliss in Faversham, Kent, UK for slow and sustainable fashion and eco friendly living.

When it comes to natural dye, adherence to best practice is critical. The use of highly toxic metallic agents (tin, copper, iron and chrome) for mordanting even though they help achieve brilliant shades, needs to stop.  If life is about making choices, then accepting the fact that you can’t have super vibrant shades from natural dyes is not really a big deal. Yet, the willingness to accept this compromise can make a real difference to the environment.  


Avocado stones and skin on grey stone background for natural dye by Juniper & Bliss in Faversham, Kent, UK.

Fruit and vegetable scraps from kitchens and surplus from other sources is an absolute resource. Although not all vegetable matter is useful as dye, it is best to work with those that produce substantive dyes, that is, dyes that are reliably colour fast and wash fast.

Pink vintage napkin dyed with avocado stones and skin by Juniper & Bliss in Faversham, Kent, UK.

Dyestuff which are high in tannin require no mordanting, so avocado stones and skins, pomegranate skins, tea, coffee, wall nut shells, to name a few, are ideal candidates for the job and produce the most wonderful colours.

Woollen scarf naturally dyed with wall nut shells by Juniper & Bliss in Faversham, Kent.

With collaborations with the food industry, natural dyes can safely move from the realm of the hedgerow hobby craft a commercial proposition and be part of the response to the crisis of the fashion industry. 

At Juniper & Bliss we collect kitchen scraps from local restaurants to use as dye.

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