Going green! (by Jenifer Rank)
Over the past few years, it seems as if everyone is “Going Green”… current proposals where I live have local government discussing proposals to “Ban the Bag”, which would result in no more plastic shopping bags and a five cent charge for paper bags. So, as crafty types, this is a whole new realm to get involved in.
Many people ask, “Well, where can I start?” or “What is a good project to begin with?” Fortunately, there is a simple answer. In fact, it is so simple that it is easy to overlook! We started our household out with washcloths. Yep, an hour to make and a whole two dollars spent for two of them. This is also a great thing to pass along to friends and family – a set of three tied with a pretty ribbon and an organic bar of soap makes a great hostess gift!
Another option which is super popular is the cotton market bags. I’ve found several patterns for everything from a messenger bag size to totes to littler ones specifically for fruits and vegetables. The Lion Brand site has a couple really great patterns and Ravelry is always a terrific source. The thing about these that I really like about these patterns is that they’re customizable for any recipient (or yourself…) and can easily be adjusted in size or in color… just grab a different cotton!
Hand towels for the kitchen and bath, cute little reusable lunch totes, reusable coffee sleeves for those days when you forget your reusable mug, mug wraps for at home instead of using that paper towel, coasters, placemats, napkins. These are all fantastic, easy and decorative projects that are readily available. Look around your home and see what you can find… sometimes the inspiration for your next project may be in the last place you would think – like the top of a bottle of wine!
You’ll notice that a lot of these projects are made with cotton. There is, naturally (oh, yes, pun was intended), the debate between organic and regular cotton. In my opinion, yes, organic cotton is the better choice, and if you can find an organic bamboo/cotton mix, then that is stellar. However, that being said, I don’t like to spend eight or nine dollars on one little thing of yarn that is going to make me one washcloth. Call me crazy. I think the first step is to make products that are reusable and get not only yourself, but your friends and family into the habit of reusable goods as well.
One final thought… local farmers markets and fairs usually have farmers that spin their own wool (and if you’re really lucky and live in the southern part of the U.S., they should have cotton too!). Buy from them! Support your local growers. Not only are you helping build a sustainable local economy, you’re also cutting down on pollutants needed for shipping and manufacture of the mass market goods. Just make sure you are tossing those farmer’s market purchases in the tote that you made!