In Defense Of Plastic Grocery Bags

What. This is supposed to be a Sustainable Tuesday post and I’m trying to defend a single-use plastic? Yep, nobody ever said I couldn’t so I am.

With most of my family being in New York state, I’ve managed to hear that recently New York has made using plastic grocery bags a fineable offense.

Most Tuesdays I volunteer at a food pantry and grocery bags are one of the most important things that can be donated. If you’re just an ordinary person there are two things that can be donated in a helpful quantity. Time and grocery bags. Food is also acceptable, but most people don’t have much extra.

The food pantry gets these “single-use” bags and we re-use them. Shocker I know. They are super useful for bagging up loose vegetables, fruits, and yogurts.

Sarcasm aside, we bring home some bags of food and re-use them again. As trash bags. And maybe then they get recycled. I don’t know. I’m not going to talk about that.

I’m going to talk about what plastic should be a finable offense. Unreusable plastic bags, like what lettuce comes in. Or any number of foods that come in little bags that can’t be reused.

Why is NY banning a product that gets re-used and recycled, when there is hiding inside that a much worse product?

Sustainable Tuesday: Library Advantages Part 1

Yes this is going to be a two-parter as today I’ll talk about how to help your library by taking advantage of it, and then next week I’ll talk about the book I’ve been reading since yesterday.

Good Action 1

Visit your library. No matter what your reason is the librarians will appreciate your visit.

Good Action 2

Donate to your library. Money, books, magazines, etc.

Good Action 3

Borrow books and movies from your library. It reassures the library that such things are being enjoyed.

Good Action 4

Use the interlibrary loan system. Find something you want to read that the library doesn’t have? Ask for it through the interlibrary loan system. It may take a couple months for new releases to get to the shelves, but they will appear.

Good Action 5

Ask if you can volunteer at the library. Some libraries don’t have anything for you to do, but others will be super excited.

Good Action 6

Use your library’s Libby/Overdrive/e-books. If you’ve asked and the librarians know nothing about it ask at other local libraries. If you’ve noticed that your library doesn’t appear in Libby, then try your library card number at all of the other local Libby libraries. I personally access Libby from a library name that I’ve never actually been to.

That’s all for now.

E

 

Sustainable Tuesday: Hanging Desk

I admit, most people won’t be able to make a desk like mine. I used what I had and spent no money. Someday, my desk will have to come down, but we hope to move, so that matters little.

Things I had before I started.

  1. Pallet Boards.
  2. Pallet Nails and a Container of Nails.
  3. Twine
  4. Two Bunk Beds about 2.5 feet apart.

Desk2

Using these I was able to make an awesome desk.

Realistically I shouldn’t say that I had pallet boards. I had left one pallet only three quarters apart.

Step 1. Making the Top

It super simple. I found boards of a similar thickness and ordered them on the top side. A couple of nails each and I had a lovely top.

Desk

Step 2. The Shelf

One of a desks most important parts is the storage. Yes, having a smooth top is great, but having a place to put things nearby, is the best.

So I flipped the desk over and added a couple of boards to the bottom of the pallet. Due to the forklift slots I had to get a bit creative and used a short section of board to hold them in place.

Desk3

Step 3. Making it fit

Then I had a desk that was just too large to fit into my only space so I had to cut it smaller. Sadly I only had a hand saw so this took a good amount of time.

Step 4. Preparing to hang

Part A. Drilling the holes.

Very Simple I found the drill and placed some holes.

Part B. Braiding the twine.

I didn’t trust the twine to be strong enough by itself so I found three strands and braided them together. Fun Fact I did most of the braiding while I went on a three mile walk.

Desk1

Step 5.

Hang it up. This was a tiny bit difficult, but I was able to balance the desk on a couple of boxes and thread the twine through the loops.

And TADA! I have a desk.

 

Pallet Furniture Sustainable Tuesday

When you are a small time, cheap, or green DIYer you will eventually run across the idea of making things from pallets. Most often is the classic headboard, but chairs and tables are also popular.

Today I’m starting a three part series on my pallet furniture making experience.

Most projects will start with the most obvious of steps.

Dismantle your pallets.

But how????

Slowly and (hopefully not) painfully.

First off you need a good selection of tools. I suggest:

A claw hammer, a pry bar, a pair of pliers/dull wire cutters.

Next you need to know how to use the tools. Most of them are pretty simple but it’s the pliers that I think deserve a mention. In case any of the nails lose their heads you use the pliers to pinch the nail right at the board and pull it out. If it sticks try an different angle.

Next I suggest spending a moment studying your pallet. If there are parts you want to keep, yay. If there are boards that will come out easier. Yay.

Third you need to accept that the nails might be junk. They were put in with a really powerful nail gun, you might not be able to reuse them.

Finally a semi helpful tip. If you put the pry bar in on the side of the board, the board is much more likely to crack, so go in from the ends.

Sustainable Tuesday: Buy For The Future

Feel free to leave comments about how buying for the future is the point of sustainability, then I can know you only read the first sentence.

 

 

Okay. Now onto the point of this post.

Ages ago, my parents lived in France and something delightful happened. The worth of the American Dollar went way up. Their income remained the same, but they were worth so much more.

They didn’t start eating out all the time. They didn’t start eating expensive food all the time. They didn’t start going to movies all the time.They bought things.

Things that have been used since then. Things that are still being used. Things we joke we will argue over when they die. I might have considered taking pictures of these things. But sadly we have looked and found they are no longer made.

Mom’s Pans

Stainless steel nesting pans. With Copper in the bottom. Removable handles. Yes these are plastic, but as long as you keep them clean and off of cooking pots they will last for years with only the springs needing to be replaced. The largest pan can hold just enough soup for six people and the smallest is perfect for one person. I love these pans.

Theory

If you find yourself with a surplus of money invest in some nice, expensive pans and learn how to take care of them. Thirty plus years from now you will still be using them and patting yourself on the back.

Matching Backpacks

As my parents knew they would be doing a lot of traveling they got matching orange backpacks. These packs were designed to be used for hiking or traveling. The smaller one just works as a carry on, but the larger is great for stashing extra things. They zip all the way down the sides, but still feel great for a long time on your back. I can’t say they’ve been used as much as the pans, but on average probably twice a year for some purpose or other. These are mostly plastic, but with care they’ve lasted and been used, so it’s less of a worry.

Theory

If you know you will be traveling a fair amount invest in a good backpack. Do your research and find something. If you know you will be doing lots of spontaneous traveling get something that zips all the way down. You will not regret it.

 

Unlike some of my parents wedding presents (which I’ve barely seen), the things they bought in France are staples of life. Perhaps some other day I will write about some of the old staples in our house, but for now these two will do.

Buying larger items, that hopefully will only need to be done once or twice may seem hard, but if done correctly will be extremely rewarding.

What are you going to cut out of your life so you can invest in your future?

 

We’ve Got Pockets

Whenever it was I spent 10 days off grid. I found it to be super inspiring. On the second Thursday we had a cook out for dinner and after the guys showed up we started talking sewing.

Yes, that happened. And No they didn’t mind. And Yes as I often find they had useful inputs.

I had mentioned to my best friend that I wanted to go visit Israel with her next year and I figured we needed at least a thousand dollars each. She had recently been hired to make little girl dresses. Upon finding that she enjoyed it, she has been working on setting up a shop. We were talking pricing.

JH said when someone other than his job was wanting his time he asked for at least $25 an hour per person. He got paid that much, his brother would want that much, his machinery cost that much to run. This added up to $75 per hour for him and DH to cut down a tree. One tree took them only an hour and the man paid them $200.

Let me not say anything. Take a deep breath. I’ve had people tell me that $35 was to much to hem a pair of pants. But they were willing to pay fifteen dollars.

This is all to say we were encouraging SH to bump the finished price of the dresses to the $70-$100 range. Sew much closer to what she should be earning.

In turn I mentioned my sewing plans. So often I have seen complaints about how women’s clothes just don’t have good pockets. And on the flip side I have often seen ladies worrying if the pockets will be to much. I was wondering why don’t I make a clothing line where pockets are the statement of the piece.

My family expressed doubts.

I explained I was considering making a blue skirt with orange star shaped pockets on it.

My family thought that sounded horrible.

I fell quiet, but that vague idea stuck in my brain. Finally today I was able to put on paper rough sketches of that idea and another one.

Pardon my terrible drawing skills.

On the left we have a skirt designed to look like an upside down flower. The pockets are quite visible as they are representing the sepals.

On the right is a modified version of blue and orange. The color has been changed to yellow and the stars are evenly spaced. I haven’t yet decided if the little stars should be pockets too. And is four star pockets around the waist good or should I go for the semi subtle three stars like Orion’s belt?

A pin cushion topped mason jar with a few buttons in it

 

So bountiful hay to my best friend.

For re-inspiring me to start sewing again.

For re-inspiring me to start designing again.

For giving me such a handy pin cushion as a belated birthday present. I know you don’t read my blog, but still.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

If I were to make skirts like these how much would you pay? Would you pay $200? Would you pay $250 if I made sure to use sustainable fabric? People often pay tons of money for clothing of little quality. From people they care little for. Fabric costs money, but the most expensive part is the labor.

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PS.

Speaking of sewing I have recently agreed to sew a dress inspired by a book as an art project. I would really like to put my best foot forward with doing this. But I need nice fabric and notions in order to do that. If you would like to help with this in any way at all please check out the Go Fund Me I put together and either share it or give a donation. Every dollar helps.

PPS.

Speaking of obvious pockets don’t you think that an evening gown with a blue jean pocket or two sounds like something that could come down a runway?

Sustainable Tuesday; Off Grid

This will not be my classic Sustainable Tuesday post.

Since Thursday, September 12, I have been off grid.

Minimal electricity, no running water, and spotty phone service. I enjoyed my time off grid, it inspired me for my blog, my sewing, and my future.

But I realized something.

Being off grid is hard and it may not be as “green” as we would like to think. I’ve said I don’t really worry about my van emissions or what type of fuel I use, and that is true, but I live in the country. Here in the country there are lots of plants to soak up the excess.

If you take being off grid to just mean solar energy instead of the power plant. If you have a well insulated house. If you live somewhere sunny. Yes. You can pretty easily generate all the energy you could possibly use. But if any of these things aren’t true, it becomes super hard.

I’m boring. I spent two of the days with my best friend canning. We used a tank of propane. We had the generator running. Because of the canning we did, we weren’t very green.

DSC_1246

But.

Now we have quarts of canned meat. Gallons of canned pears. It no longer requires electricity to store this food. Come winter less will need to be bought from stores, meaning that less gas will be used to bring food to them.

This is the challenge of it all is what do we accept. Yes, we used lots of propane, but now there is less worry for winter, the food is stored…

When is it best to spend energy and where?

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