Eco-Craft: Reducing Your Plastic Use with Crochet

Nerd Heaven, Crochet and the 3 R’s

A couple years ago, the image below showed up in my Facebook feed with a challenge to use less plastic in during the month of July.  Plastic drives me INSANE.  I don’t want to use it but it has become almost impossible to avoid, particularly at the grocery store.  Produce is pre-wrapped or pre-bagged in plastic, sour cream comes in plastic, lunch meat, bread, cereal, snacks are all packaged in plastic.  Juice and vinegar and milk are bottled in plastic.  It is EVERYWHERE. So what do you do when you want to do what is right for the planet and cut out plastic?  That is where the 3 R’s come in.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  Say it with me… Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.   Did you notice recycle is last?  It is last for a reason.  Recycling, while better than tossing plastic in the landfill which leaches toxins into our ground water and may eventually find its way in our oceans, should be your last option.  Recycling is expensive and uses energy.  The best thing you can do is reduce your use of plastic.  And when you have plastic, reuse what you have.  And when you can no longer reuse the item, recycle it.

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So what does this have to do with crochet?  A lot.  Because when you add crochet to anything you add fun.  Adding crochet to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is nerd heaven for me.  I’m passionate about the Earth and I’m passionate about crochet.  While there are lots of ways to reduce your use of plastic, below are a couple suggestions on how you can use crochet to help reduce your plastic use.

First #1! BYOB.  Bring your own bag is #1 on the list above and by far the easiest way to cut back on single use plastic. Really any bag will do but if you like, you can crochet a bag or two or more.  When my oldest was in kindergarten (he is now a senior in college) I made a bag out of plarn (plastic yarn made from used plastic bags).  I love it and it is super strong.  I always load it up with cans and jars when I grocery shop.  I didn’t use a pattern but there are a bazillion patterns out.  A quick Ravelry search yielded over 1,000 market bag patterns.

2. BYOW. Bring your own water bottle.  I’m not going to suggest you crochet a water bottle as that would be weird, but you could crochet a water bottle carrier.  This would make it a lot easier to bring your own water with you.  Here is a quick Ravelry search for water bottle carriers.  Next time you go to restaurant and they ask if you would like a drink/straw, you can say, “No thank you.  I’m doing my part to reduce the amount of single use plastic waste and brought my own water in this awesome water bottle carrier that I crocheted myself!” or something like that.

3. BYOC. Bring your own cup. Post-covid this one is a little harder as some companies are not refilling reusable cups or offering refills. Like everything, I think this will eventually pass but if you need a coffee fix every day, just brew it at home and bring it to work with you. Or get your own personal coffee machine for your office. I make coffee using a French press and use this homemade cozy to keep it warm while brewing. Or you could crochet a cozy. Skip the lines, save time and money, and make your coffee yourself.

4. BYOL. Bring your own lunch.  Pre-covid I would bring my lunch to work and intend to again once I’m back in person next month.  I pack it in an old personal sized cooler that one of my boys used to use in grade school.  The strap is broken and the zipper is messed up on one place.  But it still keeps food cool.  So I carry it in-you guessed it-a crocheted bag I made.  I use reusable containers for my lunch and do not use single use plastic baggies.  I bring real forks and spoons and a cloth napkin.

5. BYOU.  Bring your own utensils.  This one is my favorite because this one took me awhile to figure out.  When we eat out, we often go to casual dining places (pre-covid and we will begin again, eventually).  Not quite fast food but you still order at a counter.  These places often have plates or baskets that get reused but tend to offer plastic forks/spoons/knives and cups and straws (see above for BYOW) that end up in the trash. The light bulb turned on one day when we were eating out and I now use an eyeglass case to carry my own utensils with me. I keep it in my purse and never need to use a disposable fork/spoon/knife while away from home. Read about it here, Eco-Craft, Plastic Utensil Carrying Case

using an eyeglass case to carry plastic forks and spoons crochet pattern by darleen hopkins

6. BYOPB. Bring your own produce bag. Yup, there is a pattern for that! Crochet Produce Bags. I never understand the purpose of produce bags. You are going to either peel or wash the produce before you eat it. And you are going to put it in a bag after you check out. One day I watched a guy put bananas in a plastic produce bag and then tie it shut. WHY? They are already bunched together and sealed in a natural wrap that you don’t eat. I’ve seen some people single items in plastic produce bags. One butternut squash in a bag-again, why? you are going to peel it before you cook it. Oh well, not my job to judge. Unfortunately, so much produce is pre-bagged in plastic. But if you feel you need another bag for them, try crocheting a light-weight bag to transport the loose fruit and veggies.

7. Eat at home. I think covid has taught us all that this is not only possible but a great way to slow down and enjoy dinner time. Dinner doesn’t have to be eaten in the car. However, if you can support restaurants and businesses struggling to come back, do. Just do it Eco responsibly and make the trips to fast food the exception, not the norm. Crochet some hot pads and placemats and enjoy a home cooked meal.

Pizza! Pizza!

8. Food storage. No need to buy plastic or even glass storage containers. Clean and reuse what you already have. And why not dress them up while you are at it?

9. Share the tips. Done.

Do you have any other ways you use crochet to reduce plastic usage? I’d love to hear them.

Happy Crocheting and Happy Reduce Plastic Usage!
Darleen

crocheted container for plastic cutlery

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