Well, it looks like I missed Earth Day. Again.
But it's okay! We can keep caring about the world! And I'm going to get the jump on it next year. I'm writing my Earth Day post just a few days after this year's Earth Day has passed! I'm fairly confident that we're allowed, and probably encouraged, to be conscientious crafters year-round.
I'm hardly the greenest person out there, but I still think it's best to do the best I can in small ways so I can avoid burnout and giving up on doing anything to conserve resources again. I'm all about little baby steps. In addition to daily activities like air-drying dishes (mostly because I'm lazy), or using simple household cleaners, I also try to be mindful when I'm knitting and crocheting.
Here are some things I've learned to do:
-BYOB(ags). Yes, we all know about bringing reusable bags to the grocery store. But, not to be super-obvious, you can bring them to your yarn store or craft supply store, too. I typically forget, but I'm going to try to do better after I realized how many Michaels bags I have lining my bathroom trash can. Yikes. Don't have reusable bags? Let me prattle on....
- Make your own bags. If you're reading this, then you're probably already a crafty person. You've totally got this! My favorite lazy method is to stitch up the bottom of a tank top. That's it.
|I probably had no business wearing this in the first place. If it can barely hold produce, chances are it can't hold you.
And this bag is one of the first things I sewed when I was 11 or so. It's a tote bag my Mamaw helped me make using my granddad's pants leg from some worn-out jeans. I still use it as a project bag because it holds happy memories for me. I smile every time I see it! Plus, that cowgirl applique is too amazing for me to not trot it out for all the world to see.
|Bask in this repurposed glory.
The Internet is full of patterns for knitted or crocheted bags as well. I've noticed that many of them call for recycled cotton or other reused materials, but you could always just use what you have.
-Speaking of the Internet, epatterns are a great way to save resources, space, and money. If you typically have your laptop by your side, or you're one of those lucky iPad people, then epatterns are a fantastic option. I've noticed that most of the ebooks Leisure Arts sells are at least $2 less than than their paper versions, but most are even better deals than that. The Big Green Book of Recycled Crafts is currently $19.95 in paper form, but only $9.99 if you download it as an ebook. Holy smokes, the future will actually save you money!
-Working with recycled materials is always a great way to find more environmentally friendly ways to use up new materials. Making your own recycled materials is another option. I've heard of people going to thrift stores and buying sweaters and unraveling them for the yarn. I've only gone so far as to buy clothing that I salvaged for the fabric at thrift stores or garage sales, and it's a great way to get some unique fabrics. I'm also a big fan of cannibalizing my own projects for the yarn. See this scarf?
I crocheted it back in the fall of 2010 with some gorgeous self-striping yarn I bought from who-knows-where for who-knows-what-price. I never wore it and I never gave it as a gift. It's been sitting in a pile for nearly 3 years and I'm not entirely thrilled with how it looks. So it's going to be unraveled and knitted up into a hat. I think I'll really like the look of that, and I think I know what place it will have under the Christmas tree. Awesome!
|I only broke the yarn once! And you can't see, but there's orange in there too.
-I know unraveling is not everyone's preference, so a less destructive approach would be to simply declare some weeks or months 'no-shopping' periods so that you're focused on crocheting, knitting, scrapbooking, welding, sewing, or whatevering from your existing stash of supplies. You'll not only save money, but you'll have a chance to really figure out what you like working with and how much you want/need. In the long run, you could buy less of something you don't like and then you'll take up fewer resources that you won't use.
-Repair something instead of throwing it out. Sewing machines can be fixed (usually). Scissors can be re-sharpened. Crafters are already an impressively resourceful bunch, and I know you have plenty of things you probably do to give new uses to old items.
-Pass it on. Yarns and fabrics can be swapped amongst friends. Unwanted items can be donated. Regifting is actually pretty great. There's always a second chance to use what you have for something unexpected.
-Have fun and be creative. I like seeing how I can take what I have and use it to fit the needs I have at the time. Looking at a shirt and imagining it as a bag, mixing two really different yarns to create unexpected texture in knitted fabric, or taking just about anything and using it as a container for supplies is like a grown-up version of the hidden pictures games I play with my little girl. Looking for a dress for her in a skirt I don't wear anymore is really not that different from looking at skeins of yarn and knowing what they'll turn into. And I like that.
What are your green tips and tricks? Is it part of your overall mindset, or do you stick to a few baby steps here and there? Either way, I want to know!