Looking for some clever ways to decorate those Easter eggs without harming your family or the environment? While traditional egg dying kits are non-toxic by FDA standards, they do contain artificial dyes, which have been linked (albeit vaguely) to a number of health conditions. Even if there is no conclusive evidence that food dye causes ADHD or other medical concerns, it’s better to err on the side of caution, especially when there are so many other egg decorating ideas out there that don’t rely on artificial colorings.
Read on for 20 wonderfully fun and eco-friendly ways to decorate eggs, then check out a few tips to help you come up with your own ideas.
20 Safe & Eco-Friendly Egg Decorating Ideas
Along with some safe alternatives to artificial dye, I’m also including some eco-friendly “upcycled” ideas for both real and decorative-only eggs (these can be stored and reused year after year). Check them out.
12. DIY Bath Bomb Easter Eggs (a great one for kids who are allergic to real eggs!)
14. Silk Tie-Dyed Eggs in the Instant Pot (literally uses silk ties!)
16. How to Make Natural Egg Dye (includes a handy color chart)
17. Create Cute Easter Egg Designs with Paper Napkins (a little different from the napkin decoupage eggs above, this one will show you how to make fun Easter designs)
18.Paper Mache Easter Eggs (another good one for kids with egg allergies)
5 Tips for Decorating Safer Easter Eggs
Whether you use some of the above ideas or want to come up with your own, these tips will help you decorate a safer egg.
1. Stick to the shell
I mean that literally. Choose decorations that stay on the shell and don’t seep through to the egg. That’s the biggest problem with artificial dyes. If they stayed on the shell, they wouldn’t be such a concern. However, I’ve yet to eat an Easter egg that doesn’t have at least a little dye on the egg itself.
Things like temporary tattoos and stickers work well because they stick to the surface of the shell and come off when you peel the egg.
2. Use food instead of food coloring
Once upon a time, before artificial coloring was even a thing, people turned to nature to dye Easter Eggs. Yep, the tradition actually began way back in ancient times! Eggs symbolized rebirth and renewal, so painting them was part of spring rituals.
Using food as egg dye does require a bit more patience. It’s not quite as easy as just dunking an egg in a plastic bowl and waiting a few minutes. In some cases, you’ll need to leave the eggs in the dye bath for an hour or more.
3. Upcycle plastic eggs
Plastic eggs aren’t exactly environmentally friendly, so I wouldn’t recommend going out and buying more. However, most of us have a bag of them somewhere in the deep recesses of a craft bin or storage closet. If your kids have egg allergies, I think it’s okay to buy a bag of them to reuse each year. That way, they don’t feel left out of the egg decorating fun.
Many of the ideas above work well for plastic eggs, especially things like the yarn-wrapped eggs. You can also use old clothes or even colorful socks (clean, please!) to wrap around the plastic eggs.
4. Create an egg from scratch
Another great idea for kids with egg allergies, this one doesn’t rely on plastic! Look through your home (or your craft bin) for things that you can use to create a whole new egg! Paper mache is always an easy option. You can even just cut out egg shapes from cardboard and let young kids decorate that.
5. Buy a Plant-based egg dye kit
If you just don’t have the time to make your own natural dyes, you can still use a kit. Just make sure it includes plant-based egg dyes. Earth Paint is a good one with high ratings.
Again, although the FDA says that artificial dyes are safe, there is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence to the contrary. Mercola (a highly reliable and respectable health organization) explains that artificial dyes have been linked to numerous health problems in mice, rats, and even humans.
Mercola goes on to explain that while the US deems these dyes safe, the European Union requires all products containing them to carry a warning label stating that it “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” That’s reason enough to forgo the fake stuff and DIY your own egg colorant!