Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sustainability - one loop at a time.



For the last little while, both at work and at home, I have been exposed to a never-ending stream of information on sustainability, global warming, reducing my footprint and doing something personally to improve the condition of the planet. The research through work has led me to scads of websites with various measurement tools and suggestions of how to reduce my footprint. Some suggestions are easy to adapt. Some are not so easy.

When measuring my own footprint (which is based on consumption of water, energy, land, trees, etc.), I was stunned to learn how un-friendly my lifestyle is, even though I don’t drive a Hummer or fly to exotic locations every month. Simple things like laundry, appliances and newspaper subscriptions all add up to a not-so-great score. I am dedicated to doing what I can to improve that. But rather than beat myself up totally, I decided I would also pat myself on the back for things that I am doing that are good - like rug hooking.

Since my very first project, I realized that recycling old clothes and creating something beautiful and useful with them was very much to my liking. Maybe it’s that East Coast heritage, but I definitely relate to the first mat makers. Everything they used in the rug, and in creating it, was recycled from something else. Mind you, that’s what they had to do, and I’m sure their footprints were tiny.

I love the ceremony of deconstructing a garment. I love putting the buttons and zippers into a box for possible future use, undoing all the seams, letting down the hems, gently washing the wool and shocking it into a wonderful texture. I relish adding the new wool pieces to my stash. I would guess that more than 85% of the wool I have is from recycled garments. They may not give me all the colours I need for every project in my future, but I love creating designs and colour plans that incorporate what I have, rather than dyeing all new wool.

I love that friends are saving wool garments and allowing me the opportunity to give them second lives. Same with panty hose and polar fleece. I love it when I get to show them a rug that has their old winter coat or pants. They seem to love that too.

I also like the fact that each rug has fabric that has had a past life - often one that I will never know anything about. But when I hook with it, I get to send it to a future like with a new story, hopefully for generations to come. It will bear my initials and the year it was hooked, so a little of me will go forward too.

So here’s to all those folks who are teaching us how to save the planet. And to those of us who are doing our part to comply. Even if it is one mat at a time, it’s helping in a way that makes me feel really good.

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