Archive for March, 2007

Grocery bag knit dress

Forget my puny little evening bag. Check out this dress knitted from plastic bags:

By Cathy Kasdan, who is currently finishing up a Master’s in textiles at Kent State University and her thesis is based on consumer culture.

via Craftzine.

The dress is all hand knit from grocery bags that were the result of actual trips to the grocery store. As soon as I told people I could use their old bags for a project they brought them in by the bag full, I received thousands! The plastic grocery bag came about in the 1950’s along with futuristic optimisim about America, so I made a “typical” 1950’s ensemble complete with pillbox hat and purse, not pictured. I am going to have my pieces in an art show on recycled art at the School of Art Gallery in downtown Kent along with a group of other people beginning April 19th.


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News about my alma mater via the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Rec center renovation deemed ‘green’

The recreation center. By Stephen Salpukas.

The recreation center. By Stephen Salpukas.

The College’s recreation center, which reopened last fall after an extensive renovation and expansion, is the first building on campus to officially be recognized by the federal government for its environmentally friendly design.

William and Mary received certification for the remodel of its recreation center as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) structure this month. The certification, granted by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), recognizes “performance in five key areas of human and environmental health,” according to the organization’s Web site. These areas include water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, indoor environmental quality and sustainable site development.

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If we could afford it, I just might consider moving there….

via CNN:

San Francisco to outlaw plastic grocery bags

POSTED: 10:40 a.m. EDT, March 28, 2007

San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi hands out canvas shopping bags Tuesday.


Mirkarimi said the ban would save 450,000 gallons of oil a year and remove the need to send 1,400 tons of debris now sent annually to landfills.

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Who knew there was so much interest in trash? I saw a recommendation in No Impact Man‘s blog this morning for Garbage Land and when I clicked on the link, I started a cascade of surfing on Amazon that revealed no fewer than 10 books on the subject:

  1. Fat of the Land: The Garbage Of New York–The Last Two Hundred Years
  2. Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage
  3. The Economics of Waste (RFF Press)
  4. The Waste Crisis: Landfills, Incinerators, and the Search for a Sustainable Future
  5. Garbage In The Cities: Refuse, Reform, And The Environment (History of the Urban Environment)
  6. Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage
  7. Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash
  8. High Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxics, and Human Health
  9. Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago
  10. Designing America’s Waste Landscapes

And furthermore, there are many books on the related subjects of recycling and product life cycles, and several books specifically for kids about trash and recycling.

  1. Why Do We Recycle?: Markets, Values, and Public Policy
  2. Opposing Viewpoints Series – Garbage & Recycling

Product Life Cycle

  1. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
  2. Paper or Plastic: Searching for Solutions to an Overpackaged World


  1. Where Does the Garbage Go?
  2. Garbage and Recycling (Young Discoverers: Environmental Facts and Experiments)
  3. Recycle!: A Handbook for Kids
  4. Fun With Recycling: 50 Great Things for Kids to Make from Junk (Fun With)
  5. Bob’s Recycling Day

And even a dumpster-diving genre:

  1. Empire of Scrounge: Inside the Urban Underground of Dumpster Diving, Trash Picking, and Street Scavenging
  2. Mongo: Adventures in Trash
  3. Cash for Your Trash: Scrap Recycling in America

So, there you go. Everything you ever wanted to know about trash but were afraid to ask.

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I finished the evening bag crocheted from newspaper condoms from the New York Times and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It came out pretty nicely, only problem is it didn’t use nearly enough bags and they come in at a rate of 2-4 per day!


Plastic bag craft is kind of an interesting genre. There are some really quite beautiful examples of crochet, braiding, and weaving with plastic bags.

Can all these craft projects make a dent in the production of plastic bags (check out the ticker at the top of this page)? Unfortunately, I doubt it. But, at least it’s a start. And, when people see the beautiful and (re-) usable things made out of trash, it may make them think twice about throwing the bags out after one use.

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Coffee Tree
I just found a terrific blog on Coffee and Conservation. We have an ongoing dispute at home over the earth-friendliness/social responsibility of the coffee we buy. I finally got my hubby to quit the Maxwell House habit (cheap!) and now we are buying whole beans from Peets (not my first choice). He called them to ask about whether they have an organic, shade-grown, fairly-traded variety and they sort of laughed. Then, they gave him a line about how their non fair-trade certified coffee really is more socially responsible than the certified variety because co-ops have a monopoly on the certification. So, even though they “pay their farmers more than the fair-trade co-ops” they can’t get it certified. Uh huh. Also, we have this stuff shipped once per month from Seattle, which sort of defeats the purpose. My preference would be to purchase it from Share Blend which raises money for Earth Share of GA and is fair-trade certified, organic, AND shade grown. Stick that in your coffee mug and drink it. Anyway, this blog provides a wealth of information (including an interactive map showing local roasters) about the confusing topic of earth-friendly coffee.

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I just joined the Blogger Bioblitz, initiated by Jeremy Bruno at ScienceBlogs. As Jeremy puts it:

In honor of National Wildlife Week, April 21 – 29, I am inviting bloggers from all walks to participate in the First Annual Blogger Bioblitz, where bloggers from across the country will choose a wild or not-so-wild area and find how many of each different species – plant, animal, fungi and anything in between – live in a certain area within a certain time.

I’ve become a fan of “citizen science” – projects that empower regular plain-old folks to collect data and submit it to umbrella organizations that can use it to track trends or pinpoint trouble spots. A couple of great examples of these include:

What a great way to promote understanding of environmental issues, spread awareness about habitat and biodiversity loss, educate people about the creatures with whom we share the world, and collect data all at the same time. As Wengari Maathi points out, empowering people to improve the problems we see provides hope in the environmental movement.

If you are so inclined, join the Bioblitz, or any of these citizen science projects and empower yourself.

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