Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Is that fabric I see in your compost pile?

Day 9 into NaBloPoMo...Still working on the body of the Thankful sweater.   With the trick play technique, the body is a very relaxing knit and working up fairly quickly.  About 30 inches complete so far.   Remember to like the Verdigris Knits Facebook page or follow on Twitter this month to receive the pattern at the end of the month.

I thought I'd share another reuse/recycle project that I have in the works.
This is going to be a tote from a repurposed empty bird seed bag. I was actually on my way to the trash can with this bag when I noticed the beautiful graphic and put the breaks on. Shame that I didn't have the repurpose thought before then.   Check back in a few days when I post up a photo of the finished bag with the great image on the front.

These bags are made out of some woven polyester strips that are coated in some other kind of plastic - creating a practically non-destructible, easy to clean "fabric" that can be used for all kinds of things.  The bag will be lined with fabric from a dress shirt donated by Mr. Verdigris Knits. The collar and cuffs were worn through, otherwise this shirt would have been destined for the "good willy" as my Mom would say.   The handles came from another tote that was stained so badly that even that guy on the oxyclean commercials wouldn't touch it.

I should be able to put this together this weekend.  Feels good to keep some things out of the landfill and get a new knitting bag as a bonus.

Yesterday,'s Ask Umbra column dealt with a great question about whether or not fabric is compostable.  The answer provided some very interesting stats and information about the sustainability of fabrics.  One stat that I find incredible it that in the US, 70 pounds of clothes are discarded per person each year.  Discarded as in thrown away, as in not donated or repurposed.   That's the equivalent of about 5 laundry baskets for me. 

And if that isn't shocking enough, Grist also reported that 99% of fabric is recyclable, and natural fibers are even compostable.  I would go farther to say that 100% of fabric is reusable.

I'm feeling a little better about the pile of used shirts sitting in my work room waiting to be repurposed.  Great fabric to reclaim, even if the shirts are too worn to donate. 

Here's my personal guide on managing our fabric output in this family:
  • Reduce the amount of clothes purchased  - less impulse buying of trendy, low quality pieces that I know will not look the same after one trip through the wash.  Buy better quality pieces that will stand the test of time.
  • Regularly cull those pieces that just aren't being worn anymore - these get donated while they are still in a condition that someone else can enjoy.  Have to do more of this when I deviate from the point above.
  • Make do and Mend!
  • Once the garment is too worn or stained to serve useful purpose, the garment is set aside for repurposing.  Buttons and other notions are reclaimed too.
  • Scraps of natural fibers go in our compost bin.
  • Scraps of man-made fibers (polyanything) go in the trash - where here in Indianapolis at least they are incinerated for energy recovery and won't end up in a landfill.  

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