As I have said before, I think there can be a lot of focus on new organic and better produced but if you are going to really try and live more sustainable buying new/second-hand and produced from recycled materials or what ever slogan that is popular at the moment is still in impact. Buying new or new for you still makes an impact and I think that the focus should be to use what you have instead, even if it isn’t organic. The damage is already done in producing it. So to only buy when needed and then choose the better alternative is in my mind the more sustainable way. If is difficult for most of us, the lure of a new thing that you “really need” can be incredibly tempting but it gets a little easier with time. It is a constant fight however, not to do as everybody else and redecorate the living room every other year.
One hot topic here at the moment is plastic. But to throw out all your food storage and kitchen things over night and buy new in glass, wood and metal… The plastic didn’t become bad for you overnight just because you found out. Sending all your, still functional, old containers to landfill or energy recycling isn’t sustainable at all. I don’t want our home filled with plastic, but we are trying to substitute one item at the time as they go bad or break. You can always re-use jam jars as a lunch box, they’re sort of free and recyclable and leak proof as there used to be jam in them.
What I’m trying to say is: see what you have before getting anything new, even if you’re shopping second-hand.
For sustainable Friday this week I have two versions of a simple washcloth that still looks nice, you could use them to do dishes or wash yourself. I always keep one in the kitchen, one in the shower and one by the sink where I wash my face in the evenings, they are perfect. This design has most likely been used by thousands of knitters before me, so this is most likely to reinvent the wheel but I have given it my own twist to make them as decorative as functional. Both of these versions also have the advantage of knitting until you have the desired size so there is no guessing of how many stitches you need to cast on to get a reasonable size.
Size: What is a good size is something of a personal preference but after trying a few different sizes I think that 20 cm by 20 cm is the most useful size.
Yarn: Use a fingering to sport weight linen, cotton, hemp, or mix of plant fibre. A heavier yarn won’t be able to dry between uses and drying quickly is what keeps it fresh between washes. Thrift stores usually have lots of forgotten crochet cotton.
Gauge: You don’t want it to be bullet-proof since you want it to dry quickly but not to loose either.
- Cast on 2 stitches.
- Make a yarn over (yo) and knit all stitches, repeat this row until you reached desired width.
- Yo, slip one stitch as if to knit, knit 2 stitches together (k2tog), pass over the previous stitch over the 2 together, knit all stitches. Knit this row until only 4 stitches remain.
- Yo, slip one stitch as if to knit, knit one stitch, k2tog, pass over the slipped stitch over the 2tog, pass over the next stitch over the 2tog, pass over the remaining first stitch on the needle then yo over the 2tog.
- Crochet or knot a loop using the last loop on the needle.
- Cast on 3 stitches.
- Knit 1, yo, place a marker, knit 1, yo, knit 1.
- Knit all stitches
- knit to marker, yo, knit 1, yo, knit to end.
- Repeat the last two rows until you reached desired size and end with a row without increases, bind off the stitches until you reach the marker, remove the marker and bind off the center stitch, crochet a loop using chain crochet and ending with a slip crochet in the first chain stitch. Continue to bind off the rest of the stitches.
Good luck making your everyday objects reusable and more sustainable.
Living sustainable isn’t expensive, mostly it is about not buying, using and storing things you don’t need. Todays tips is to not use the disposable bags when buying fruit and vegetables. We have for the past couple of years used reusable ones that I made from scrap fabric. For me it was important that the bags where light, easy to close and didn’t take much space in my already overflowing backpack. I decided to only use leftover bits of fabric, only using leftovers restricted the size of the bags: some are square others more triangular and one is a tiny sort of triangular that is perfect to keep all the other bags in when they’re not used.
How to make the bags
– Cut out 2 mirrored pieces of fabric or one pice with a mirror plane.
– Sew with a straight stitch 7 mm or 1/4″ from edge so as to enclose all but one side.
– Cut the corners and press the seam open then fold it the other way and pin so that the cut edge in toward the inside. Sew again with a straight stitch this time 1 cm or 3/8″ from edge on the same edges as before. You have now made a french seam.
– Choose whether you want the french seam on the outside or the inside and press the bag accordingly.
Sew 2 buttonholes on the centre on one side of the opening 4 cm from edge, if your fabric is fragile you can add a patch or interfacing behind the button hole to reinforce them.
– Press the opening edge down 1 cm and then 2 cm to create a double fold, pin down. Sew a strait stitch along the entire opening just inside 2 cm.
– Thread elastic or cord through the first buttonhole past the second all the way around and through the second one this way there is a small overlap, cut the elastic/cord a little longer then opening and tie the ends together. To close the bag simply pull the string no knots needed.
At first I tried to make them approximately the same size that the disposable bags in the store are but using leftovers the size ended up being a bit different, some big other small and after using them for some time I love that they are all different sizes because I have a few small bags for raisins and dried mango, medium sized for onions and tomatoes, little larger for zucchini and cheese and big ones for potatoes, apples, oranges and bread.
You don’t have to wash them between every use, only when needed but you do want to wash them before you use them the first time if you haven’t already washed the fabric before. Fabric is often treated with things you don’t want near your food. Everything doesn’t need its own bag if you are buying one or two onions you don’t need a bag for that, but 20 oranges can be a little difficult for the cashier to manage quickly and easily so a bag is of better use for that.
Good luck with your continual improving sustainable home. If you have tips on smart solutions please leave a comment.
How is making everything myself any better then buying commercially in a sustainable aspect?
Well it’s not. It might even be worse, commercial production have optimised everything so that as much of the material as possible are used and to be efficient. The aspect you can compete with by making your own is to only make what you actually need and to do that well only you have the opportunity to make garments form your own measurements that fit your body. Think through exactly what you need and make it perfect, ensure that the fit is perfect for your shape, that the colour suites you and is something you will like for a long time. Think long term, don’t stock up a big stash, your taste will most likely change.
I’m not saying that I’m perfect and only make the perfect items, that I love and cherish for years and years, but I would like to be.
I think that the knitting and absolutely the sewing community have taken on the fast fashion trend. I hope that this can be a wake up call for someone more then me, just to stop and think. Choose one project and make it really well. Do that hand stitching and take your time with one project instead of making several in the same amount of time.
Making things is essential for me. It is what makes me happy, calm, excited and more, so to stop making things isn’t an option, but trying to be aware and take it slow to take my time when sourcing materials is.
I have planned a series of posts where I go through how to curate a wardrobe or rather how I attempt to curate my wardrobe.
Please share you toughs in the comments or a link, I’d love to here what you think.
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