I Love to Create: Earth Day Crafting

Nowadays, environmental consciousness isn’t just about recycling plastic bottles and refusing to drive a gas-guzzling car.  It’s a way of life–a way of thinking about life and making choices to help create a better world.  As a crafter, you’ve already taken a humble step in the right direction: you choose to create instead of consume, and to use simple resources to practical effect.  Yay for you!
Adrienne Armstrong and I embrace this topic (with all of it’s beautiful, yarn-y goodness) as it applies to knit and crochet in our upcoming book, AwareKnits.  For today’s I Love to Create column though, I wanted to inspire people to take a look at our overall crafty imprint and for at least one day, today, be mindful of our creative choices.  Using resources from our own homes, we can turn something old and unwanted into a project that’s new and fantastic!  Here are some project & technique ideas using a few simple, recycled items to get the eco-juices flowing:


Cafe Curtain from Tease! (Perigree)
  • Turn an old t-shirt into a cute, cafe curtain.  Use sewing machine or Fabric Fusion to attach panels to fabric strips.  Fold over top for rod pocket and bottom for hem.  Add painted or applique embellishment, if desired!
  • Cover-up a boring, ol’ journal!  Cut t-shirt panel an inch or so larger than journal.  Brush on a layer of glue over existing cover front and back.  Lay t-shirt fabric over glue and smooth.  Fold edges over the inside of the cover, adding more glue to secure.  Let dry.
  • Breathe new life into a plain t-shirt; dye it a new color and add fabric appliques!
Plastic Bags
Lunch Tote from AwareKnits (Lark Books Oct. ’09)
  • Cut bags into strips and tie together to make your own “plarn” (plastic yarn).  Once you’ve done that, the possibilities are endless!  Try crocheting or knitting a lunch tote, purse, coasters, doggie dish mat and more!
  • Turn bags into fabric!  By folding individual bags into thirds and machine sewing down the middle, a cool, quilted fabric strip is created.  Sew strips together until fabric is desired size and then you’re ready to create your own, eco-customized item!  Aprons (like this one I made on Stylelicious), reusable grocery totes, out door furniture pillows, and beverage cozies are all great projects that are also simple to make.  For extra added embellishment, bust out the stencils, a Little Chica Paint Pack and decorate away!
  • Use a bag as a paintbrush!  Crumple up a plastic bag, tying end off with a rubber band to give you a “brush”.  Using Soft Fabric Paint, blot onto canvas or other fabric to create a unique, textured pattern.  This is a great technique to let kids experiment with!
Card-io Cards from Kiwi Eco-Craft Column
  • Brown paper bags have a million uses, but here are a few of my favorites:  Turn them into greeting cards, use for creating patterns for appliques & sewing, cover with stamp & paint designs and use as wrapping paper, and fold into old-school book covers (collaged with your favorite images)!
  • Make a shoebox memory keeper!  Everybody needs a place to stash those special notes and cards given to you by loved ones.  Next time you buy a pair of shoes, recycle the box they came in to an organizational tool.  Cover completely with a layer of paint, bedazzle to your heart’s desire, and add a label to the box top!
  • Especially since they seem to be a dying breed, magazines deserve to be cherished! Let their images stay with you by creating an inspiration board using the pictures that speak to you most.  Glue more images onto recycled cereal box squares, for one-of-a-kind post cards.  Layer mag covers with vinyl and sew into a purse!  Oh, and if you want to get really crazy, cut pages into strips and use a drop-spindle to make paper yarn.
Of course all of these ideas are just launching points for your own eco-creativity.  Take some time today to search the blogosphere, Flickr and Etsy for other, great environmentally conscious crafts.   If you find something cool (or come up with a new idea), please share it here– your comments keep the dialogue going!  
Remember, “going green” doesn’t have to be an all-consuming change.  It’s the little things that collectively make a difference.  Just do what works best for you and your family, while keeping our pretty planet in mind.
Happy Earth Day!,
Read last week’s I Love to Create column here.