Sunday, 31 May 2009

Waste knot

There is so much emphasis on being green and saving the environment these days, and eliminating waste goes hand in hand with the whole saving the planet theme. This is an admirable endeavour, don’t get me wrong. Along with the global recession, it’s turned thrifty into a compliment. But whatever happened to not wasting for the sake of not wasting?

People have become so used to consuming at a lightning pace and discarding with reckless abandon that we have cultivated a society of wasters. We buy too much food and toss half of it, get rid of clothing and household items after just a few months and have spawned a throwaway generation who for the most part have no idea of the value of what they have, including time.

It is for this reason that I think the global economic nosedive is a good thing. It is forcing people to reassess the value of their belongings, appreciate their worth a little more and think twice about what goes in the bin. A recent article draws attention to the fact that Lambeth, a borough of London, is throwing away 80 tonnes less rubbish than usual every week compared with a year ago. That’s massive.

And so necessity, the mother of all inventions, will undoubtedly make her comeback. A decrease in disposable income coupled with green pressure is bound to spawn some creative ideas.

Author and designer Betz White has brought out Sewing Green, a 25-project book using “repurposed and organic materials”. I haven’t actually read it yet, but it is on request at my local library. (If I took up felting as well, I’d really never get anything done and would end up longing for way too many craft books.) I’m interested to see what her take is on green.

I’m not sure if Jodi is thrifty, just madly in love with selvedge or both, but she’s come up with some brilliant ways to use selvedge and it’s easy to see why she’s addicted to it:

Selvedge bag and cushions by Jodi from Ric Rac

Have you noticed how one day of quilting can result in a substantial amount of fabric off-cuts and machine threads? I’ve starting saving mine and have almost enough for the core of a Japanese temari:

Free pattern: Mitsubishi Stars by Barb Suess

The latest copy of Inspirations embroidery magazine features a project designed by Barb Suess of Kiku Designs, which got me on to saving my off-cuts. They’re stunning alternatives to store-bought Christmas baubles – even if I only get around to making one a year. Go here for inspiration.

Tamara from ¼ of an inch recently blogged about her latest book purchase, Thrifty Chic: Interior Style on a Shoestring by Liz Bauwens, Alexandra Campbell and Simon Brown. It’s the perfect complement to my well-thumbed copy of Flea Market Style by Emily Chalmers.

I guess what I’m getting at is that if we just thought a little more about the materials, off-cuts and abandoned projects that we usually throw away, we could probably come up with some unique and novel ways of incorporating them into new projects – and eliminate waste simply because we can.


karen said...

great post, very current and informative. Maybe I should start to examine my own green credentials, I'm sure they're not up to scratch!

Anonymous said...

hear hear! well said.

Knot Garden said...

What a clever title for this post. There is far too much wasted in this disposable society. Everything seems to be programmed to maintain a fast turnover in marketing.
Congrats on your magazine write up by the way - looks like they did a very nice feature!

UK lass in US said...

I agree. My husband always thinks I'm nuts, as I keep all sorts of things in case I can one day use them.

I think it would be nice to return to the old style of doing things, though, where you would have to pay quite a bit for it, but you knew you were getting a quality item that would last for ages. These days, everything is cheaply made, it seems, even when the price tag isn't cheap.