With all eyes focused on the COP24 climate conference, I think it's high time quilters took stock of their contributions to global warming, and took action to reduce consumption, recycle used products and materials, and generally clean up our acts!
This is a tough conversation to open. I know most quilters are crazy about their tools and supplies; I know I am! And, I know most of us will say "Fine! But how am I expected to store my supplies? It's not my fault so many of these products are made of, or contain, plastics!"
Trust me--I'm right in there with you! I'm ashamed, when I open my studio drawers and cupboards, to see how much STUFF there is, in general--not to mention how much of it is plastic! Nevertheless, I feel we all need to cut back on our spending habits, and to let retailers and suppliers know how we feel about plastic tools, notions and other quilting supplies.
I took a couple of photos of my supplies in situ, just to show you what I mean. For example, in the photo above, how many plastic products do you see? Beads, sequins, storage boxes, a spoon, latch hook holders, and a plate--all made of plastic--filled one drawer. And the stuff has been lying untouched for a LONG time!!
How many plastic products do you have in your stash? How many polyester fabrics, including batting? How many tube-turners, twist-ties, and plastic bags? Plastic-handled shears and rotary cutters? How many spools of polyester thread? How many decorative threads and trims of unknown synthetic materials? Can you live, as a productive quilter, without all these goods?
Our grandmothers did! Cotton thread worked well for both embroidery and quilting in the days before polyester had been invented. When decorative threads were needed, cotton or silk wrapped with fine gold-toned metallics sufficed.
Batting for quilts was made entirely from cotton wadding or wool fibers. It was lumpy, ok, and hard to needle by hand, but that didn't seem to make the quilts produced with such batting any less desirable or attractive. Many such quilts are highly valuable works that now reside in museum collections--and all without polyester batting or threads!
The issues surrounding global warming, global filth and global pollution are complicated. Whether it is less damaging to produce polyester, bamboo or cotton can be debated ad nauseum--all have their impacts on the environment.
My concerns have to do with what becomes of all the STUFF we make. Do we REALLY need it? Do we REALLY want it? Wouldn't the quality of all our lives improve if we learned how to do with a little less STUFF, and put more emphasis on how we live than on how much it costs us to live?
If you share my concerns, and those of many people around the world who feel things are going completely out of control, spend a little time this week in your sewing space, taking stock of and cleaning out what you do not need or want. Find someone to sell or give the stuff to who will appreciate having it.
Identify useless plastic products. If the products are not so useless, find some other way to use biodegradable or long-lasting natural products to substitute for the plastics. Take those plastics to your nearest recycling center, where they actually do re-use the plastic rather than creating a new product and its subsequently increased demand.
Downsize your stash by not buying any new fabrics until you use at least half of what you possess today. Why did you buy all those fabrics in the first place, when you knew you would never have enough time to make that many quilts?
Promise yourself that you won't buy more polyester or plastic products. Pull back from aggressive advertisements and marketing that seeks to foist more such products into your world while encouraging you to part with your hard-earned money for them. Beware of gimmicky plastic tools touted to make life easier, when wooden or metal products have served the same purpose for many years. What's less expensive? Investing in a high-priced tool that will last through several lifetimes, or buying cheap plastic tools that dry out, crack and break after a few uses?
Quilters--THINK before you buy! Do you REALLY need to make that purchase, or are you only substituting immediate gratification for other aspects of your life and lifestyle that are missing? Instead, buy LESS, buy BETTER QUALITY, and buy BIODEGRADABLE whenever you possibly can!
Thanks for your help in saving what is left of our world!!