Dying with indigo feels like pure magic to me.
This deep rich color develops right before our eyes.
The pieces emerge from the dye vat a beautiful emerald + oxidize into deep indigo.
I guess I only wear indigo now. :)
Since we were trying to squeeze every ounce of fun out of this project, we decided to try a few shibori techniques on our bandanas + kitchen towel. This turned out to be a sort of finger strengthening exercise as well. :) The binds we chose are simple + are meant to produce squares, swirls, stripes + circles. I keep my expectations low with this sort of thing. For me, it's not about perfection...it's just about experimentation, enjoyment + discovery.
My preferred uniform consists of a white top (tank, tee, sweatshirt or button-up) + a pale, worn, denim bottom. I like white tops, but I'm no stranger to a coffee dribble or blueberry tart squirt on my front. Knowing this about myself, I have a plan for that. (sniff, sniff, Elizabeth Warren) White tops are are easiest color to dye.
I've been putting off this batch of dyeing, mostly because I don't want the fun to be over. But I need some tops to be wearable + the dye vat is ready...so here's what I've collected to dye so far:
-the aforementioned, blueberry-tart-stained tank
-an old, layering tank
-a couple of too transparent tanks
-a pair of thrifted shorts
-the bandanas that we wrap our gifts in
-a tea towel of which I have more than one
-a stained kitchen towel
Dye is a great tool for a more sustainable wardrobe. Not only can stained garments be made useful again, but things that we tire of can be made "new" again. Adding dye to the list of ways we could transform thrifted pieces expands options. I've also found that dyed pieces are often more durable than undyed ones.
Let the magic begin.
How are you feeling about waste in the midst of a pandemic? It was sad to see the bulk bins empty + be filled with plastic bins + bags of beans, grains + nuts instead. All of the bread is now sitting in plastic bags + the salad bar is empty. Some of the systems that I depended on to lower my waste output have crumbled like many of the other systems we depended before the pandemic.
My feeling always was that sometimes other priorities take precedence over zero-waste thinking. As a nurse, I would not complain about the disposable, plastic oxygen tubing or all the wrappers + syringes that we used + discarded. During a pandemic, some packaged (rather than bulk) food makes sense. I'm not going to add to the stress of this time by feeling guilty about making a bit more trash than I previously did. That's why I've waited to write this post. As always, guilt is often unproductive + even in the best of times, only takes us so far. Compassion + love...choosing to do better...to make a positive difference...that is the motivation I want to employ.
While things have changed + some of my previous choices are no longer available, there are still a bunch of ways that we can choose to create less waste in the kitchen. I'm going to focus on the kitchen here, because this is where a big portion of our waste is created + where the differences are most seen lately.
There are still lots of things we can do to be mindful of + decrease our waste even during a pandemic:
:: Eat lots of fruits + vegetables.
This is the time of year (in the Northern Hemisphere) to enjoy all of the local, unpackaged produce available. A CSA box is a fantastic way to eat like a king, support a local farmer, reduce exposure to coronavirus and reduce transport miles + packaging.
:: Eat less (or no) meat.
"The greenhouse emissions from the livestock industry are greater than power + transportation combined and because of its huge land footprint, it is responsible for a catastrophic meltdown in global biodiversity. If you could snap your fingers + make the livestock industry go away, the recovery of biomass, trees + shrubs + grasses + so forth, would immediately start pulling carbon out of the atmosphere. The bottom line is that nothing even comes close, in terms of its destructive impact on the environment." ~Pat Brown
:: Pack your own groceries into reusable bags.
Since we are not allowed to place containers from home onto the conveyor belt, I put all of our loose produce into my own bags while shopping...unload it onto the conveyor belt for the cashier...and then load it back into my own bags again myself. Our grocery store employees won't pack our groceries into our bags (not that they always did anyway), but they will let us pack our own groceries into our reusable bags.
:: Grow something.
Basil or mint in front of a window...peppers on the balcony...tomatoes or cucumbers in the yard or at a community garden plot. There's nothing more zero-waste than package-free food grown close to home.
:: Eat raw.
Saving gas + electricity qualifies as part of zero-waste too. When I turn on the oven, it not only takes electricity to heat...it also takes more electricity to cool down our house as a result. Make sun tea + cold brew rather than using the kettle. Salads + fruit/yogurt/granola are mainstays of our diets these days. Make bigger batches of rice + other grains to avoid turning on the stove again.
:: Preserve seasonal goodness.
This is a great time to think about what we'd like to preserve for colder days ahead. We could buy a box of peaches to cut up + freeze...or a few extra cucumbers each grocery trip to pickle. Lots of packaging can be avoided this way. (If plastic ziploc bags are a preference for freezing, wash + reuse them.)
:: Drink water, make sun tea.
Drinks can create unnecessary waste + often contain a lot of sugar. Water from the tap (refrigerate a pitcher in order to save water from having to run to get cold) with or without a squeeze of lemon, making sun tea or cold brew from bulk and smoothies from fruit + vegetables are great low-waste summer drinks. Skip tea bags + choose bulk leaves in a can. Compost the leaves, grounds + rinds.
:: Make food + coffee at home.
Mindfully making meals + coffee from scratch at home can cut out a lot of packaging. Consider supporting locally-owned businesses by getting take-out on occasion too.
:: Prioritize certain packaging. Reuse + recycle.
Reusable packaging may still be an option. I try to recycle as little as possible, because recycling doesn't always happen + requires a lot of energy + often new resources too. Paper + aluminum can be recycled. Glass + cans too. I try to avoid plastic, but stretchy bags can be added to the plastic, grocery bag recycling bins. Make an effort to get recycling to the right spots.
:: Eat it all.
So much food gets thrown away. What a waste of not only food, but of all the resources it takes to grow, nurture, water, de-pest, harvest, clean, transport, stock, sell + buy food. Make meal plans + grocery lists. Eat what is in the house before buying more.
Food fills up landfills + produces harmful methane gas. Get it to a community compost site. Do it on a balcony. Do it in the yard.
Go through the trash + recycling to see what's in there. Reassess how some of it could be avoided. Sometimes we feel pressured in the moment to make a quick decision at the grocery, but later we can be a little more thoughtful about our choices + make a better plan for next time. Sometimes seeing the amount of clamshells or plastic cups in the trash can spark motivation to shift a habit.
:: Use rags instead of paper towels. Skip disposable sponges.
It was a pleasure to not feel this scarcity.
:: Wear a mask + practice social distancing.
Doing what we can to stay well + to keep others well saves a lot of medical supplies from needing to be used + disposed of. :)
:: Do your best. And do your best again.
Guilt isn't proactive. Each choice is a new chance to make a good choice.
Thank you for all the good choices you make! We are doing this for each other, and I appreciate you + your efforts so much! :)
One great thing about having a garden is that it lets us in on when foods are in season in our local areas. We've moved around a lot, so remembering when we picked corn or blueberries or apples when I was growing up in Michigan does not exactly inform when I should be looking out for them here. Missing these treasures once at the U-pick spots also clues me in.
It's possible to find strawberries, tomatoes + apples year round these days, but eating fruits + vegetables in season is a whole different experience! Summer crops get all the glory, but spring has some pretty great offerings too! Asparagus, greens + peas make me feel thirsty for green on my plate...and chives + radishes are coming out of our own garden right now.
This meal tasted like spring on a plate + I didn't want to forget it, so I thought I'd record it here...
Spring on a Plate (serves 4)
1 cup dried brown rice
asparagus, woody ends removed + sliced
4 Tbsp butter
1 lemon, juiced
fresh chives or green onions
cayenne, salt, pepper flakes
Cook rice, adding asparagus stalks to the cooking pot for the last 8-9 minutes of cooking time. Add asparagus tips for the last 3-4 minutes of cooking time. The asparagus will steam on top of the rice (do not stir in). When all of the water has evaporated, remove pot from heat + stir in butter, peas, lemon juice + seasonings. I used salt, cayenne + pepper flakes. Garnish with chives, radishes + nutritional yeast. Enjoy! :)
An oversized J.Crew catalog sneaked its way into our mailbox recently + inspired me to do something I started to do when I was a teenager...make envelopes. The pages of my fashion magazines worked as inspiration for outfits, silhouettes, shapes to design + sew, hairstyles...and also as wallpaper, collages, ransom-note-style letters + most often... envelopes.
I still love reusing + making things...and it's fun to make envelopes of different sizes + shapes. I based these envelopes on the structure of clasp-style envelopes + just sort of thought backward through the structure in order to determine what cuts to make. A couple of the shapes are shown here before gluing.
It might be fun to make envelopes out of an old calendar or children's plentiful artwork. I've also enjoyed making boxes out of these things. They can be a nice way to wrap a gift or deliver some cookies.
These envelopes might be used as wrapping for (an upcoming) birthday gift or two + also for letters that will be sent off in the weeks to come. I think they'll make for some happy wrapping + mail.
A few things:
-Many small business's + restaurants are struggling to stay afloat during this pandemic.
-We are lucky enough to still have an income at the moment.
-There are a few local spots, fair brands + well-curated shops that I love.
-I don't need all the things.
It's such a tricky time. Business owners + artists are feeling torn about pleading for sales + acknowledging that their customers may be feeling the squeeze (or stranglehold) as well.
I'm trying to be a little bit more thoughtful than usual about where I buy things that I would be purchasing anyway. We could use some new kitchen towels, so I went ahead + picked a few up from my favorite maker. We have a birthday coming up, so I did a little extra thinking about what to purchase...making an effort to choose local goods that support a few spots that we love. I need a couple of tops for warmer temperatures, and I'm thinking through who my purchases will support (whether thrifted, sewing supplies or fair).
Every purchase supports someone + some system. Slow food, slow fashion, slow consumption...they were always all about sustainability. I'm hoping that with a whole lot of creativity, ingenuity + consideration, we can bolster the resilience of each other + emerge stronger + more sustainable than ever.
We've had to resort to purchasing a few things online over the past few weeks. As usual we are looking to purchase items through small businesses. They are pretty great about using recycled + recyclable materials for shipping (and it doesn't hurt to ask for them either).
Amazon may be a last resort...but there is a way to reduce the use of plastic mailers from them as well. It involves a quick chat (through the "help" button at the bottom of the page). When I requested plastic-free packaging on all future orders, the representative responded in a very encouraging way + the request was noted on our account.
A couple of fun ways to use the cardboard that does come through might be to make some bears out of them + contribute to your neighborhood's bear hunt or to design the house of your dreams. :)
This is a great time for all of us to be getting all the use we can out of what we have. I love supporting small businesses, and I'm still trying to consume only what I need...and create as little waste as possible.
I was so excited to find this Ilana Kohn Milo jumpsuit secondhand earlier this year. I love the way the top fits, but I wasn't completely into the width of the legs on me. It can be really hard to think about altering a piece like this. I start to weigh the ability to resell an altered, designer piece...which really is quite silly. I bought it because I wanted to wear it! :) I felt like I was considering the value of this piece more as a potential sale rather than as a piece to wear + use. The whole point is to own what we have...to form a relationship with it...to make it our own...and to wear it over + over.
So...I ripped out + opened up the hems. The legs were pinned in (using a pair of overalls with legs closer to my preferred width as a guide), and the jumpsuit was tried on. I liked the fit, so I used a chalk pencil to mark my lines + sewed along the line. I checked the fit again (measure twice, cut once)...took a deep breath + cut the excess fabric away. (eek) The raw edges were overstitched + the original hems were sewn back in place. (I'm keeping the cut-off bits in case I need a patch someday.)
And now...I am SO happy I went for it! I put the jumpsuit right on + wore it for the rest of the day. (It looks a bit more like an Ilana Kohn Gary now). I used to have a little hesitation about wearing this piece, but now it is exactly right for me...and I'm going to wear it a lot!
I'd resisted sewing masks hoping that the expanded manufacturing of N95 masks would catch up with demand...but then...my sister told me that my nephew's hospital had given him two cloth masks to use + wash on alternating days in order to conserve disposable masks. And this week the Centers for Disease Control + Prevention recommended that all Americans wear face masks outside their homes. So...now I'm at work.
My choice of sewing patterns is the Fu Face Mask...a free sewing pattern from Joost De Cock available in three sizes. I like that it is a little bit more fitted + ties rather than using elastic (which is more painful on the ears with extended wear + which I don't have on hand). We don't have a printer at home, so normally I use the printer at the library (which is now closed). I was able to enlarge this pattern to the proper size on my computer screen + trace it onto paper (+ added 1/4 inch seam allowances all around). I added a bit of wire at the bridge of the nose for a closer (+ non-glasses-fogging) fit. I also put the straps in at an angle + reinforced them a bit. Eighteen inches seems to be a good length for the ties.
I've been praying that mask-wearing would become more normalized, partially so that my family members won't have to be coerced into wearing them. I was incredibly encouraged to find that most of the people in Whole Foods today were wearing some sort of mask. And even if they weren't, I've done enough self-talk to convince myself that this is just too important to be swayed by the thought of what others will think.
Our county has collected more than 3000 masks already + seems to be a bit at a loss for what to do with them at this point. I think New York City could use them, but it looks like I'd need to send them there myself. Just something to be aware of. The masks I've made were first for my family...then I'm sending a few to my parents. If my sister has already sent some, they can share the extras with their neighbors + friends. I'm also going to send some along with Julia to the grocery store where she works. People can wear bandanas, but there may be some service workers (in addition to our friends) who would appreciate a mask. Just a thought.
This is obviously a good project for fabric scraps. And in the spirit of zero-waste, I noticed that these masks could also double as a strappy, bra top when this thing is finally over. (ha-ha!) :)
Lots of love to you, friends!
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time