The 3 Rs and Crochet
I’ve always been a little bit of a nature girl. You can call me a tree hugger if you like, I don’t mind. I grew up where curbside recycling began in 1980 and therefore separating trash became second nature to me. I try to do my part to keep the air clean, the water pure and the land pristine. If you love this big blue marble we call home as much as I do you likely practice the three Rs as much as possible. You know them, reduce, reuse and recycle. The 3 Rs are important and it’s important to understand the proper order. First and foremost we want to REDUCE the amount of waste we create or the items we use. When we can, we should try to REUSE what we have. Once something has fulfilled its purpose, can we reuse it as something else (repurpose, upcycle)? If we still end up with trash after we have reduced our consumption and reused what we can, then we want to RECYCLE whatever is possible to keep from having to use virgin materials.
We can incorporate the 3 Rs in our crochet, knitting and general crafting too. The suggestions below are practices I use every day to reduce, reuse and recycle as well as suggestions that were made by readers of my Facebook page or other ideas discovered while researching this post. All are great ways to do your small part to help our Mother Earth, no tree hugging required, I promise.
First and foremost we want to reduce the amount of trash we produce. Less waste means a healthier planet. Anytime you substitute reusable items for disposable items, you are reducing! This is good!
Idea #1-Crochet a sturdy market bag or two or ten and reduce the amount of disposable plastic bags you use when shopping. There are A LOT of patterns out there for bags of all types. This would be a great use of that scratchy purple and orange yarn you bought on clearance and have NO IDEA what to make with it. Keep the bags in the trunk of your car and bring your bags with you everywhere! They aren’t just for farmer’s markets. Take them to the grocery, to the yarn shop, to the home improvement store. Anytime you shop, if you need a bag, use your handmade market bag. Not sure you can give up your disposable plastic bag addiction? Trust me, you can and don’t worry, a few of those pesky bags will still make their way into your home. I’ve been bringing my own bags to stores since the mid-1990s yet I still end up with plastic bags. When I get them, I use them for various things like collecting items for donation or for household trash. I end up with just enough to use for my household needs with no unnecessary extras to throw away or recycle.
Idea #2-Crochet some napkins and use them instead of disposable paper napkins. You can use any larger dishcloth pattern. We use cloth napkins made out of some worn out flannel sheets. My husband had the sheets when I met him in 1995! About 5 years ago the sheets were worn so thin in spots that it was time to replace them. I cut up the good parts and sewed them into reusable table napkins we use every day. The worn out parts of the sheets were sent for fabric recycling and the pillowcases are still used today.
Idea #3-Crochet dishcloths, this is my favorite, The Best Little Dishcloth EVER!, and use them instead of disposable sponges or paper towels. Get a fresh one every day and you won’t have to worry about icky bacteria build up.
Idea #4-Bonnie (via Facebook) suggested crocheting some Swiffer duster covers and use them instead of the disposable ones. This is a great idea and would also make a really nice housewarming gift when paired with a new Swiffer. Check out this pattern for the floor mop and this one for the duster.
Idea #5-Reduce paper usage by either using your tablet only when working on a pattern or, if you are like me and don’t have a tablet, print your pattern then place it in plastic sleeve. Use a dry erase marker to mark your spot. When done, clean the sleeve and the paper can be saved for the next time you want to use the pattern. This fantastic idea was suggested in the From Trash to Treasures Ravelry group.
Idea #6-For the ladies only-reduce your use of disposable sanitary products and switch to handmade. I’ve not seen any crochet or knit patterns but here is a link for many sewing patterns. http://clothpads.wikidot.com/patterns. I switched to cloth liners for every day use quite a few years ago and I’m extremely glad I did. Another idea is to switch from disposable diapers to fabric diapers you make yourself. Confession-this isn’t something we did with our boys but now that I’ve switched to cloth liners, I really kinda wish I had tried it with my babies.
Idea #7-Make some dryer balls and ditch the disposable dryer sheets. Check out this video for more information. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8hbYKET6Rs This is something I’ve been wanting to try. Let me know how it goes if you do it.
Idea #8-Reduce your stash-yup, I said it. Buy less yarn or at least use what you have before you buy more. Some people love their stash, and that is fine. If your stash brings you comfort then this isn’t for you. I read somewhere where a lady purchased yarn while on vacation and then she used the yarn to decorate her craft area. This isn’t the type of stash I mean when I say to reduce. The yarn I am referring to are all those random skeins that you have no idea why you bought. Find a good home for it-maybe turn it into market bag. What about the miscellaneous partial skeins that are tucked away at the bottom of the stash bin? Maybe you can make something beautiful with it. Would the yarn make a good chemo hat for donation? Or what about a lapghan to donate to an assisted living home for the elderly? Maybe a cute teddy bear for a sick child and his siblings (Team Lewis)? Or maybe there is a place to donate the yarn? A charity group that crochets for needy or someone who teaches knitting or crochet at a local senior center or a library or a church or a school. Find a use for what you have before you buy more.
Idea #9-When you purchase yarn, reduce by doing research.
Everyone has to decide what is most important to them and use that knowledge to make decisions. Knowledge is power and use your power to make informed decisions. What is important to you-saving energy? reducing pesticides? reducing waste caused by production?
Reduce energy consumption by buying locally. Not everyone has a cotton plantation or an alpaca farm in their backyard but maybe when you do buy yarn, you can buy yarn that was made in your country with domestic materials. Check labels.
Commercial yarn options:
*Lily Sugar ‘n Cream is made with 100% USA grown cotton.
*Lion Brand has yarns that are made in the USA (some are made in the USA of imported fibers, read the label!)
*Red Heart Medley, Super Saver and With Love are made in the USA of imported fibers.
*Caron Simply Soft is made in the USA of imported fibers.
Some smaller companies use domestic fibers as well. Check out:
**Made in America Yarns, www.madeinamericayarns. com
**Brown Sheep Yarns, brownsheep.com
and many indie dyers use domestic fibers too.
Maybe you don’t have an alpaca farm in your backyard but there may be one in the next town over. Search the web, go to farmer’s markets and ask around. You may be able to find a local producer of yarn.
Support the reduction of pesticides by buying organic cottons and natural fibers. Lindsay Lewchcuk (KnitEcoChic on Ravelry) is a bit of an expert on this subject. She says,
“The more you know about the yarn you use, the better able you are to access whether it is an eco yarn. The skein wrapper is a great place to start. Look for words like “organic,” “vegan/ natural dyes,” or “low-impact dyes,” or on animal fibers “humane,” “GOTS certified,” or “virgin.” Next, look into the company that created the yarn. In this technological age, most companies will have websites. Check out the “About” page, they love to tell you how they are working to be environmentally and/or socially conscious in their manufacturing processes. Ask around and read reviews. Have people complained about chemical residue on the yarn? Or do people rave about the company’s commitment to the environment?”
Check out Lindsay’s blog, http://knitecochic.com/ blog/ and her commitment to designing with eco yarns.
Is it better to only use organic yarn or natural materials? or to buy non-organic yet made with domestic materials yarn? What about reclaimed/recycled yarn (see next post)? I don’t know-that is a decision that is up to you and what you feel is most important. How nice would it be if we could all buy the most locally produced, least toxic in production and most organically grown option for $1 a skein? We have to make choices we are comfortable with but ones we can afford too. If you are thinking about your choices and the environmental impact your choices may have, then you are doing your part for Mother Earth. Yay for you!
Idea #10-Reduce by reusing! Check out my next post for a number of ideas to reuse, reclaim and upcycle everyday items while we crochet, knit and craft.