Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Top Five Crafts that are Good for the Environment

We all know the mantra: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Recycling is the easiest. It's not only no trouble, it's downright gratifying to drop that soda can into the blue bin. Reducing, on the other hand, is almost asking too much. I want to save the environment as much as the next person, but I want an iPod, too.

In the middle is Reuse. This is where we can all do better without much sacrifice. And lucky for me and my creative compatriots, crafting and reusing were made for each other.

So in the spirit of conservation and the need for all of us to keep instead of dump, I have created a list of my top five crafts to make, use, and reuse. These are all generally disposable items that, if we only turned them into reusable items, we would keep a lot of garbage out of the landfills.

1. Coffee sleeves

If you want to keep blisters off your fingers when you pick up your coffee, those sleeves that fit over your cup aren't an indulgence--they're a necessity. But they don't have to be disposable. Make a few sleeves with your leftover fabric, take them with you to the coffee shop, and you'll be environmentally friendly and pain free.

Check out this tutorial from blogger poppytalk here.

2. Sandwich bags

Kids everywhere go to school with a sandwich tucked into their lunch box, and that sandwich is almost always stuck inside a Ziplock bag. That's a lot of plastic going into the environment. There are, thankfully, places you can buy reusable sandwich wraps, like here. But if you're crafty, why not make them? In fact, with some leftover placemats and some velcro, you can make reusable and recycled sandwich bags.

3. Produce bags

Many of us are already bringing a few grocery totes to the store to cut down on paper and plastic bags, but what about the bags in the produce section? You can go through 8-10 bags by the time you've gotten all your produce. Why not make some lightweight bags to throw the apples and carrots into and save some more plastic from going into the dump? Here are some plain white ones that are being sold, but you can easily make ones like that and prettier.

4. Napkins

Here's something that everyone used to reuse just a few generations ago. Cloth napkins are not only environmentally friendly, but they are beautiful and they add elegance to a table. They are easy to make, fun to embellish with trim or embroidery and an immediate heirloom. Here's a tutorial from a crafter who made a napkin set with a matching pouch to store them in.

5. Maxi pads

I've saved this one for last so that you can stop right here if you are too daunted by this idea. But for those intrepid few who might want to turn this disposable item into a reusable one, yes you can make and use your own maxi pads. If you're intrigued, check out this tutorial. If you're completely grossed out, don't worry. This aint for everyone.

More ideas?
I'm always looking for more ideas on ways to turn disposable items into reusable ones, and if it's something I can make myself, that's even better. So comments and ideas are welcome!

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