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How do you work out what is the 'most sustainable'  RSS feed

 
Charli Wilson
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Location: Derbyshire, UK
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How do you work out what is the 'most sustainable'? Because there's greenwash everywhere! And my poor brain can only take so much research before it becomes confused and succumbs to taking the easiest-option.

Example- I'm trying to make a present for someone. Said present involves some fabric. I don't have a big stash of fabric hanging around, so I shall have to acquire some from outside.

- I can buy clothes from a charity shop and cut them up? This seems a waste of perfectly good clothes that someone else could be wearing.
- I can go online and buy 'organic', 'fairtrade', etc. But which one is best? Is the fairtrade bamboo more sustainable than the organic cotton? How do you know? Its probably all been shipped all over the place, and its dyed somehow.
- 'reclaimed' and 'recycled' fabric on ebay/etc, don't seem to give any results

So the most sustainable would be to not give said person a present, but that isn't really an option.. I don't think (is there a good way to say, 'Happy major-event Birthday! Thanks for all your help this year! by the way you expect a present and i didn't get you one'). Said person probably doesn't care about sustainability in the slightest, so I feel that I should care more. Society is probably a bit too hung-up on gifts... but I'm related to this person and have to live with them.

So, my brain hurts, and I feel just like buying them a gift voucher and being done with it. But no, some form of reclaimed/organic garden-ornamental prayer flags with my own special messages screen-printed on are the way to go, if i can work out how...

Ideas? To find the 'most sustainable' fabric, to avoid gift-giving in general (when you have to live with more consumerist people?), to find the 'most sustainable' option?
 
Burra Maluca
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A lot of charity shops have far more clothes then they could ever sell. It's very likely that if you asked them they would let you rummage through a big bag of stuff that they have no intention of ever putting out for sale as clothes and which would probably otherwise be sold in bulk as rags. Tell them what you want to do and I'm sure they'd love to help.
 
Judith Browning
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I love cutting up clothes from the thrift store in order to make things. Take the plunge and cut up a NAME BRAND shirt. It really is a wonderful source of interesting material. I use onlythat for my rugs and sewing projects as ours has a steady flow of other folks leftover sewing project yardages and scraps also. At the moment I am collecting linens and rami blouses to cut up and use in some natural dye projects. I used mountains of colored cotton t shirts for my rugs and classes and never made a dent. There is plenty of castoff clothing to go around I shop for our family's clothes there too.
I am not sure about bamboo cloth...i don't see how the process can be chemical free even though the plant is wonderful. Organic cotton is sent out of the country to be spun now so miles traveled is enormous. Unless your used clothing store is many miles away I think it is the way to go. I love the prayer flag idea...lots of bright silk shirts at our thrift store.
 
Alder Burns
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Unless they're locked down and/or patrolled, the dumpsters of your thrift stores, department stores, and clothing shops should soon yield all the fabric you could ever imagine using! When I lived near some sources like this, I would tear it up to use for toilet tissue!
 
Charli Wilson
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Location: Derbyshire, UK
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Alder Burns wrote:Unless they're locked down and/or patrolled, the dumpsters of your thrift stores, department stores, and clothing shops should soon yield all the fabric you could ever imagine using! When I lived near some sources like this, I would tear it up to use for toilet tissue!


That is an excellent idea! My Other Half works next door to a charity shop, so I'll have to go pick him up one day and have a look through the shops bin.. I know its not locked or anything as people regularly raid it for scrap metal and make a horrible mess.. I promise to be tidy though!

We're also shortly running a 'clothes throw' at work- the clothes get sold as rags to raise money for charity, and I've been told I can rummage through the bags in exchange for a donation to said charity, some people here will have very nice clothes too! Judith, you've empowered me to go and cut up clothes! I'll even try a 'Name Brand' one.. eek!

Thanks for your comments folks (sorry I took so long to reply, I didn't get any notifications for this thread and forgot all about it!)
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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If your neighborhood has some kind of newsletter or similar (in the US, I would recommend Nextdoor.com) - solicit for free fabric scraps. I do this in my neighborhood on a fairly regular basis to glean cloth for quilts. Because I want the end products (quilts) to last, I ask specifically for 100% new cotton fabric. You'd be surprised at what people have stashed in their closets/workrooms/basements! So many people start projects or hobbies only to find it's not for them. Then they're stuck with this "stuff" which is too good to throw out but they don't have use for. Because I ask for the fabric for charity quilts (veterans, adults with serious illnesses, seniors, people with mental differences - kids projects always have a TON of volunteers) people feel good about finding that fabric and passing it on for a good cause. Also check out yard sales - many will advertise that they are getting rid of fabrics/yarns/notions. Good stuff.

Repurposed is always my first "go to" for sustainability in urban areas - we have way to big of a "waste stream" not to be actively engaged with harvesting from it.

Please post pics of your project once completed.

I am working on a chicken quilt made from scraps from other projects (so MANY scraps!!). It's a silly project that a friend and I are having a great deal of fun figuring out.
 
John Elliott
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Alder Burns wrote:Unless they're locked down and/or patrolled, the dumpsters of your thrift stores, department stores, and clothing shops should soon yield all the fabric you could ever imagine using! When I lived near some sources like this, I would tear it up to use for toilet tissue!


And a special thumbs up to you for creative dumpster diving. Today is trash day in my neighborhood, and I get absolutely irked at all these trucks collecting up perfectly good recyclables for a one-way trip to the landfill. Were I to be in charge of things, landfill tipping fees would be quadrupled, and the moneys collected would be used to award prizes to those who recycled and reused the most.

What is 'most sustainable' is never using the landfill at all.
 
Charles Tarnard
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I worked at a thrift shop for a short time and ours baled unsold clothes to be sold later as rags. The stuff at the thrift store that is on their 50 or 75 percent off tag (or whatever the highest discount is) is destined for a rag shop or a dumpster, so there is little reason to be concerned about those ever being worn as clothing again.
 
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