Eco-friendly Easter eggs

Apr 10, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. ET

Decorating Easter eggs is a time-honored tradition in many homes, but did you know that it can also be eco-friendly? Using natural dyes and environmentally safe techniques, you can make Easter egg decorating fun and educational. Here are five tips to help you decorate your eggs in an eco-friendly manner.

Eco-friendly easter eggs

Photo credit: Eri Morita / Photodisc / Getty images

The importance of eco-friendly Easter eggs

Unfortunately, the beautifully vibrant colors of Easter eggs are all too often achieved with artificial food coloring. Some studies suggest a link between artificial dyes and ADHD and hyperactivity, and concerned consumer groups have recently pushed the FDA to ban food dyes altogether. Although one artificially dyed egg is unlikely to harm you, why even risk it when it's so easy to decorate your family's Easter eggs naturally?

Here's how you can use natural dyes and decorations to create colorful and cheerful eggs without any potential health hazards.

Tip 1: Choose natural dyes

Before we had artificial dyes, people used natural liquids and substances to change the colors of objects. For a pink hue, you can soak eggs in cranberry juice or beet juice. For yellow, a mixture of turmeric, white vinegar and hot water will do the trick. Soaking eggs in grape juice, meanwhile, will create a lavender sheen. Plunge your eggs into natural dyes for just a few minutes to create pale colors, or soak them for longer periods of time to increase the colors' intensity.

Tip 2:  Shine with vegetable oil

To make your dyed eggs stand out more, take a cloth and rub vegetable oil on them to create an outer gloss. This will make the eggs more presentable and enhance the colors even more after they've been dyed.

Tip 3:  Create flower imprints

To create designs on your eggs, go outside and collect flowers of varying size and shapes. Once you've collected a handful, place them on your undyed and uncooked eggs. Wrap up the eggs and flowers with a small piece of fabric and secure with a rubber band. Once the flowers are firmly in place on top of the eggs, drop the eggs into boiling water with red onion peels. The onion peels will dye the eggs an earthy reddish-brown, and the flowers will imprint upon the eggs during the process.

Tip 4: Make cascarones

Hollow out a raw egg by poking a hole at either end with an ice pick. One hole can be rather large (about the size of your thumbprint), while the other needs to be tiny. Extract the contents of the egg into a bowl. Once you have the inside of the egg hollowed out, rinse it carefully with water and then insert homemade confetti into the egg. Seal the large hole with a small piece of colorful tissue paper and glue. These can be used as "confetti bombs" and will quickly decompose outside.

Tip 5: Use natural elements

Easter egg planters

Image credit: Home Shoppe

Spring is the time to use nature for decoration, even on your Easter eggs. Glue fresh flowers to the shells of your eggs. Or, you can hollow out the insides of the eggs and turn them into tiny planters, like these DIY egg planters. Alternatively, you can infuse a nut theme into your decor by topping your eggs with adorable felt acorn caps (Etsy, $16 for a set of two), or even gluing real acorn tops to your dyed eggs.

More Easter Fun

Easter crafts for kids
Printable coloring pages
Kid-friendly crafts for spring and Easter