Sunday, May 29, 2011

Waste not

I'm inspired when I hear about the different ways that people are living sustainably. Especially when it's those in lead of companies.

Like, hearing about how Subaru created a zero landfill auto plant that captures and recycles, reduces, or reuses their resources in such a way that they send nothing to the landfills. Can you imagine? Creating as many cars as they do every year, with no waste!

Or hearing about Sierra Nevada's practices here in Chico, about which I've already shared briefly. Besides the solar panel, there are other ways that they've worked hard to improve efficiency. These efforts include heat/Co2 recovery, using locally grown beef in their taproom, and dig this - they even  have a biodiesel processor so that they can use 100% of the used vegetable oil from their taproom as an alternative fuel source for their transportation fleet. Amazing.

I'm not sure exactly why things like this can get me excited. In such a wasteful, frivolous society, I like seeing others who are more careful with what they have. Thoughtful about how much they really need. Fitting environmentalism into a contemporary lifestyle sometimes makes for some interesting progression. People become inventive, they get to work the puzzle and hopefully come up with clever solutions to have a low impact on the planet.

Taking it closer to home:

I've been taking a fresh look at the items that I've been making and selling in my etsy shop. In an effort to reduce waste myself, I have from the very beginning, kept scraps of this and that, hoping to use or upcycle it elsewhere. But, after over a year of doing it this way, I realize that all this leaves me with is a pile of scraps to be used! And how much better would it be to redesign my products so that there was no waste at all.

For instance: my loveys were at one time an 18" square. I would get an 18" length, and since most cotton fabrics come in about a 40" width, there was always about 4" off the end that I would cut and set aside in my scrap pile (to use in something someday, I tell myself)

But when did I decide that my blankets needed to be square? Is it just because every one else's were square at the time? Why not make my loveys 18" x 20" and not have any waste at all. This actually works out fabulously, even though the minky I use for the backside of the fabric comes in a different width. It is however 60," which is also divisible by 20, so I don't waste any minky either! Brilliant. Why didn't I think of this before.

I will be redesigning my burp cloths and a few other items as well.

One of the biggest producers of scrap for me was my market bag. It was the only thing I had in the shop with rounded seems (in the straps). Which meant I was cutting a round peg out of a square hole, so to speak. Just today, I am proud to announce, I have successfully designed a new kind of grocery bag, that not only uses about half the fabric, but also produces less waste!

Here is an example of one of the older market bags (reversible)
And here is how much I scrap I had from making one:

Here is the bag I just finished today:

And here is my waste:

Two tiny little triangles! They are equivilant to about a 5" square. This is a great improvement over what it was before - I will use less and waste less.

[BTdubs, the new bags will be in the shop later this week  are now available! here]

My next project is to finally use up all those old fabric scraps so they won't be laying around my craft station - that will be a relief! And from now on, with a bit of cleverness, and a fresh perspective, hopefully I can continue to think of ways to not create waste. Or even scrap!

What are some ways you have found to reduce waste in your home or business?

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow, This is something I am so passionate about! I try to reduce waste in many ways. Here are some of the ways that I try to reduce waste:

    -using reusable containers whenever possible, instead of plastic baggies.
    -keep plastic shopping bags for later use. If I have too many, I donate them to thrift stores. They always need more plastic shopping bags!
    -shop and donate at thrift stores. My favorite way to recycle!

    Born To Be Styled


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