Between 3-7th Sept this year, people all over the world are taking part in Zero-Waste Week. This is an annual event that’s been going on for 10 years! You can find out more (and how to get involved) on their website.
I don’t know if I am living in an echo chamber, surrounded by people who think like me, but it’s amazing how the tide seems to be turning against plastics and waste in general. I hope it’s not news to any of my readers that I feel very passionately about leading a less impactful life. This links mostly to my wardrobe and my sewing, but in today’s post, I’d like to talk about another aspect of sustainability I feel really strongly about – waste.
I’m so glad that the sewing community is also starting to become aware and interested in sustainability and there are a lot of conversations going on on social media and on blogs.
This got me thinking about how could we sewers put our skills to good use towards a more environmentally friendly life, having fun, using our fabric scraps and helping reduce plastic at the same time. So looking at the biggest culprits for waste, I gathered some ideas and projects to inspire you to give it a go too and tackle them through sewing.
This is the first instalment on this topic (only because it got really big and I had to break it up over several posts), where I am tackling the Single-use plastic Big 4 – plastic bottles, plastic cutlery, plastic straws and plastic bags. And I’m throwing in the coffee cups for good measure too.
Sewing vs plastic bottles
Did you know that the average London adult buys more than three plastic water bottles every week – a startling 175 bottles every year per person? In total, some 7.7 billion plastic bottles are bought across the UK each year.
I do hope you are already using a reusable water canteen. If not, have you seen the awesome Liberty print ones from S’Well? Swoon! I have a simpler one that I got from Polar Tek. I like that it has markings on it to spur me on drinking throughout the day and it also has a detachable straw that I use to stir drinks when I’m out and about. I also have a smaller one (330ml) from Gobi I got for free at an event for my handbag, but I can’t seem to find them for sale in the UK to give you the link. I found another 330ml one below.
Reusable Water Bottles
I have noticed that sometimes it’s quite difficult to carry it around in your hand, even if it does have a handy carry loop (both mines do). So of course, someone has thought that they could sew some sort of pouch or harness to help with that. Here are a few ideas and a really good way to use those fabric scraps.
- Water bottle holder with a free pattern
- Water bottle holder upcycled from old jeans
- Woven water bottle holder
Sewing vs disposable coffee cups
In the UK, we use 2.5 billion coffee cups every year. And although they are made of cardboard, which in theory is recyclable, because of the plastic lining that makes them waterproof, there are very few places that can actually recycle them in practice. Not to mention the plastic lid and the cardboard clutch.
Again, I’m hoping you already have your reusable cup. I really like the glass and cork one from Keep Cup (and KeepCup ones in general). When I was doing research on them, I came across collapsible ones for when you don’t have a lot of room in your bag and I thought they are awesome. I ended up getting an eCoffee Cup made out of bamboo and I like it a lot. I made a selection for your below to see how cool the designs are. I have Stockholm. Though I am quite tempted by the collapsible one as a spare…
Reusable Coffee Cups
However, if you do have to use a coffee cup on the go, you can at least save the cardboard clutch with these quilted coffee cosies. Great for quick gifts too (along with a coffee shop voucher). And they can also work to keep coffee warm in your favourite mug at home or at work.
- Handmade coffee cosy tutorial (video)
- DIY Reusable Fabric Coffee Cup Holder
- Quilted coffee cup holder pattern and tutorial
- Felted super easy coffee sleeve tutorial
- DIY Felt Coffee Cozy Tutorial
Sewing vs disposable cutlery & straws
It’s hard to say how many single-use pieces of cutlery we throw away every year, but a report in 2017 revealed that adults in the UK eat 22 million takeaway meals every week, that’s 1.1 billion/year. Even if just half of those came with single-use cutlery, imagine the impact of all that plastic on the environment.
Disposable cutlery and straws are my biggest pet peeves. Even if they offer wooden ones, the single-use cutlery is meant to go in the bin as soon as you finished your lunch. We moved office recently and we had a dishwasher installed for our reusable coffee cups. Still, disposables are on offer instead of metal cutlery which can go in the dishwasher.
I am very happy to see that sets of reusable cutlery are starting to appear on the market, with loads of options like bamboo ones, wooden ones, metal ones, fabric wrapped wooden ones, neoprene case ones, or full sets including straws. this one that also includes metal straws and brushes.
Reusable cutlery sets
But it’s not hard to sew your own and just take some metal cutlery from home with you. And you can also add a metal stainless steel straw to the mix. Here are a few tutorials, but I’m sure you can get inspiration from what’s out there and even come up with your own ideas.
Sewing vs plastic bags
A person uses a plastic carrier bag on average for only 12 minutes. On average we only recycle one plastic bag in every 200 we use. Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. (source)
The Carrier Bag Levy has dramatically reduced the use of plastic bags, yey! However, there is still a long way to go on completely eliminating them. I’m sure most sewers have made a tote bag at some point in their sewing careers. I went through a massive tote bag making phase in my early sewing days, so every one of my friends and family got some. In case you haven’t made one yet, a few tutorials for you below.
- How to sew a Market bag (video)
- Free tote bag pattern (can be made from scraps)
- Foldable shopping bag (video)
- Fold-away shopping bag tutorial
Yes, I know, living a sustainable life is hard, guys! But I’m already feeling a tiny bit better knowing that I can use my one and only superpower – SEWING – to make even the smallest contribution towards a zero-waste life and tackle my pet hate, single-use all sorts! I’ll come back soon with all the ideas that I could not fit into this post!
SAVE FOR LATER ON PINTEREST
SO WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK ABOUT ZERO WASTE? ACHIEVABLE OR A BRIDGE TOO FAR FOR MOST PEOPLE? PLEASE LET ME KNOW ANY IDEAS FOR SEWING PROJECTS THAT CAN HELP FIGHT PLASTICS AND DISPOSABLES. I WOULD LOVE TO UPDATE THIS WITH MORE.
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