Sunday, August 30, 2009

DIY Sunday - Green Your Craft Closet

Note: DIY Sunday is a semi-regular feature about the craftiness that lies within us. If you want to read more about the relationship between craft and the environment -- and really, who doesn't? -- click here.

If you're new to Light Green, you might be thinking DIY Sunday? What is that?

That's because I haven't DIMed (Do-It-Myself-ed) in months, due in large part to the fact that I sprained my hand and the doctor told me explicitly that I was not allowed to knit. And since I haven't Done Anything Myself (DAM?) I haven't had anything to write about. If you're new, however, and you'd like to read more about DIY Sunday, just click the link in the sidebar.

Now that my hand is feeling about 80% of normal (if you haven't had a sprain, you're a lucky person. They take a LOOONG time to heal -- although constant blogging probably doesn't help the situation. The doctor didn't say anything about blogging, however!) I decided this weekend to cautiously pick up the knitting project that had been lying dormant for lo, these many weeks. A quick trip to the craft store for some needed needles showed that even commercial craft stores are getting green.

Crafting and DIY are, without a doubt, the cat's meow to the hipster community. The number of amazing projects floating throughout the interwebs is truly inspiring. However, a lot of traditional craft materials don't make Mama Earth too happy, although she is generally down with the whole idea of DIY. Adhesives, paints, acrylic yarns -- all of these things are produced from a chemical stew. I admit, I rarely thought about my craft materials until recently. I'm trying to be more thoughtful about the materials I choose.

Luckily, greening one's craft supplies is getting easier these days.
For example, even the big chain stores now offer organic cotton yarns:

This is Nature's Choice Organic Cotton, which I wrote about here, in the bins at craft-world behemoth Michael's. While I love the Local Yarn Shops (LYSes) I can't afford to buy yarn for big projects there. That's why it's great that some chain stores are offering more green art supplies. I love it when consumerism and conservation collide. (If you're interested in reading more about the dangers of conventional cotton production, click here)

Organic cotton is definitely, as the godmother of all crafters, Martha Stewart, would say, "a good thing." And as demand grows, those prices should go down, according to my high school econ teacher. While organic yarns are becoming easier and cheaper finds, organic cotton fabrics may be a bit more rare, especially if you live outside the big urban centers.

That's why upcycling is so great. You can take the old and make it new again.

These T-shirts are waiting to go into my box of materials that are going to get re-purposed. While these were conventionally-produced, at least they aren't going to be trashed. And if you don't want to destroy your own clothes for fabric, or simply don't have the right color T-shirt to turn into the lining for the handbag you've been making, consider thrift stores rather than fabric stores. Not only will you be re-using, but many thrift stores support charitable organizations.

Finally, there is a lot of guidance out there to support you in re-using, re-purposing, upcycling -- whatever you wish to call it. Check out the links in the sidebar. Traditional books are also going greener.

A friend gave me this book, Sewing Green: 25 Projects Made with Repurposed and Organic Materials, by Betz White, as a belated birthday gift. It was perfectly timed, because I want to learn more about sewing, and I've got some ideas bubbling in my head. The shelves at your local bookstore are rapidly filling with such tomes. Even greenier, check out the local library. And while many libraries may not have the most up-to-date books, they often take requests from users. If more people request green resources, more libraries will stock them.

So get out there, get some green materials, a project from a book or the interwebs (The Craftzine website is a wonderful place to look for projects to do ... or just to browse for way too long when you should be cleaning your house ...) and starting DIYing!

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