What to do With Inedible Foraged Goods and Foraging Byproducts 


Taylor Smith 


Foraging is a once-lost art that has been one of the main reasons we have come so far as a species. It’s given us access to agriculture, horticulture, and especially art. Without the benefits of foraging, we never would have made it to where we are today. Food is an important part of foraging, but there’s plenty you can do with all the things you can’t eat!  

DIY Fabric Dye 

Foraging isn’t always about food; it can be for art and creativity as well! If you’ve seen brightly colored pieces of fabric or artwork from ancient times, you may wonder where those pigments came from. They didn’t have access to the manufactured inks and dyes that we can buy at craft stores today. So how did they do it? By using what they did have — ingredients from nature.  

The process of creating dye is a bit involved. Simply place your ingredients in a jar and cover them with water. Then, let the jar sit in a sunny place for about a week. After that, strain the mixture using cheesecloth and the remaining liquid is homemade dye! To change the color, all you must do is alter the pH balance. By adding baking soda or vinegar, you can experiment to find different colors.  

For the best results when dying clothing, simmer the fabric in a mixture of water or vinegar and salt before you dye. Typically, you’ll be using eight cups of liquid to one cup of salt, but this ratio can be adjusted for the amount you need for different items 

Homemade Paper 

After processing many of your delicious, foraged goods, you may find that you are left with plant material that you don’t want to waste. This is a good opportunity to try your hand at making your own paper. Although this art is too long to explain in detail in this article, you will find that there are many resources available online that go through the process step by step.  


When in doubt, the best you can do is give that material back to the earth. Just because you cannot find a use for it doesn’t mean the material should be wasted. By composting, you help create rich, nutritious soil that helps more plants to flourish in the future. This creates a cycle of growth that will help you curate more plants and replenish what you take. Whether the compost is going to your own garden or to help the soil of your local ecosystem, you are giving back to the earth.  

Foraging is an art, a culture, and so much more. So, take the time to find what you can do with the things you gather. These examples do not begin to scratch the surface of everything people have used their foraged finds for! 

About Taylor Smith

Taylor is pursuing a degree in Graphic Design. They plan to graduate in Fall 2023 and finish their education at a 4-year university.
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