Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On Sustainability

I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about sustainability. Several weeks back our microwave broke. We elected not to replace it. Consumer goods are made to break. To be replaced. And I've had enough. I am tired of everything being dispensable and/or obsolete. Companies do that you know -- planned obsolescence. Ours is a throw away society and it breaks my heart.

The thing is. These things, these items we are throwing away, have so much life left in them. My sewing machine for instance. This "worthless" machine has whipped out numerous projects. Most of which were made from thrifted material. All stuff thrown by the wayside.

Sure. My machine is basic. It doesn't embroider fancy logos or harbor computer chips full of intricate stitch patterns. But guess what? I have needles. I have floss. If I want something embroidered I can do it by hand. And it feels more personal that way. A bit of love stitched in.

On the thread of sewing and sustainability and I whipped out a new project yesterday. Reusable grocery bags born from feed bags.

Oh how I *love* that I have feed bags.
I adore my chickens and only wish I also had room for
sheep and goats and cow and maybe a pig.

I did not follow a tutorial. It seems I've amassed enough sewing knowledge to knock out a bag on my own (I know how to sew! I know how to sew!). However in writing this post I scavenged a tutorial for you should you like to try this for yourself.

I don't have a serger so I simply sewed across the bottom. I did triple stitch for extra security. The material doesn't fray when cut so rather than sew or glue down the triangles I simply trimmed them off. I've been walking through the house with a gallon of milk in the bag and it seems plenty sturdy without the extra (and somewhat tedious) sewing step.

I also made my handles shorter -- more like a traditional paper bag. Now I can't wait to go to the grocery store. Hmmm. Looks like I ought to make a shopping list.

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One of the perils of searching the web is finding projects I didn't know I needed to make. And yet, after seeing them, I clearly have to take part. While searching for the feed bag tutorial I came across these projects that are now in my queue.

Oh the beauty of the world wide web!



Hannah said...

For the theme of my School art folio I'm doing "sustainable and ethical production/use of fabrics" -jeez sounds like such a mouth full, so am really intrestes in sustainability to, =) recycling is the best way, and your bags are fantastic, i might just have to give on a go! =)

Anonymous said...

So here's my thing..
My dryer broke...
dryer of 20+ years.
and I started looking at new ones.
Because well
the kids were complaining about "crunchy" line dried underwear.
But I found out that the "new dryers have a 4 year life expectancy.
yeah 4 years??
I got a little hot under the collar.. and was going to be damned if I would buy one.
Craigs list!
for 50$ I found my 20 year old dryer! and it works, and I have salvaged all the still good parts from my old one, in a box with all the clutter.
I also found a microwave for 30$, the lady had (seriously) changed the color of her kitchen, and wanted black appliances...
So, some one told her, or suggested to her to sell her old appliances on Craigslist. ( thank you wise women!)
I don't mind buying used, as it saves it from the landfill too..
I knew the world was off it's rocker when they made disposable contact lenses..
I have a treadle sewing machine, so when the electricity goes out, I am still good to go!

denice@inkstitch said...

I *love* this feed bag tote... also, I am with you on the throw-away society sadness. It drives me crazy, so much consumption.

FuNkY MoMmY said...

Love the tote!!! We just got 6 hens today!!! When the kids get older ( no rush) we may get honey bees. Have you ever thought of that???

Love your blog!!

Shalet said...

Well I took the bag on an inaugural grocery store run -- so far so good.

As we go through more feed bags I suspect I will make and sell some of these lovelies. I hate to see good material go to waste!

And, Funky Mommy, YES! I would love bees. I have a bee keeping book and am quite keen on the idea. Mr. Peculiar not so much. It took me two years to convince him chickens were a good idea so I haven't given up yet!

Pam said...

The life expectancy of new appliances drive me crazy. I will contain my rant and instead say your feed bag bag is adorable.

Shalet said...

Thank you Pam!