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Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

My mission for this past week has been to embroider some tea towels. More specifically, my mission was to embroider tomatoes onto a tea towel.

Success. I took the towel with me this weekend and we used it, instead of paper towels, to wipe off our cutting board. The towel was a little stained by the end of the day, so it did its job well! Last week we had a bunch of semi-used paper towels in our trash; this week, just tomatoes too squished to sell.

The tomato design is from Sublime Stitching. If you haven’t checked out this site, please do so. They offer a lot of really cute designs, from cowgirls to hedgehogs, at reasonable prices; when you purchase a pattern, you get a bunch of iron-on designs that can be used multiple times on whatever your little stitching heart desires. Plus, their site has a bunch of tutorials that can get even the most needle-clueless stitching away. If you’ll notice, all of my stitches are split stitch, which is explained on the site. Easy peasy!

This will be the first of many embroidered tea towels I’ll be making. I’ve realized how quickly I jump for paper towels if there’s a spill in the kitchen, or to dry off veggies I’ve washed. Embroidering tea towels to use for cleaning up and drying off is functional, but it’s also economical. I know in the past I bought paper towels as regularly as I would buy toilet paper, and feel the same sense of panic if I ran out of either. With reusable towels, I’m saving money over the long haul – a set of three tea towels cost a little under $9 from a local kitchen supply store – and I’ll save myself the time of running to buy more paper towels.

I know one perceived drawback to the towels lies in having to wash them, because of the inconvenience and possible threat to your handiwork. I’ve washed other embroidered garments multiple times to no ill effect, and getting them clean is as easy as tossing them in with any old load. (I guess I just revealed that I commit the sin of not separating my laundry.)

Added bonus of embroidered kitchen paraphernalia? Way cuter than paper towels. If there aren’t designs out there you like, you can draw your own design on to the towel with pencil. Alternately (or even additionally), you could just add a fun border to the towel, if you’re more of a minimalist in the kitchen. Check out Purl Bee‘s great stitch tutorial.

Give it a shot! Embroidering your own tea towels takes almost no time, costs almost nothing, and is a real way you can take steps towards reducing your consumption. Get your green on. Make your kitchen cuter in the process. Game, set, match.

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I have a deep hatred of plastic bags. I’ve recently exiled plastic bags (like the ones they give you at chain grocery stores or Target) from my life for a couple reasons. More often than not, they get thrown away. Those that don’t end up in the ocean — where they ensnare marine life or entice seals to eat them — end up in landfills, where they will never ever break down. Even if they get successfully recycled, the problem with plastics is that they only recycle down; plastics get recycled into less-good plastics, creating a spiral into a product that is ultimately unrecyclable. Down with plastic!

OK, sorry, I can get a little carried away. So! Lots of people and places are perking up to the fact that plastic bags are evil. You can only imagine my excitement when, perusing Mason-Dixon Knitting (one of my favorite knitting blogs), I came across the (totally free!) Monteagle Bag pattern from their new book (which I am so trying to find this weekend).

And I was so excited that I knit my own in about two days!

In an effort to reduce-reuse-recycle, I dove into my stash and came up with some Sugar and Cream cotton yarn that looked just funky enough for this macrame-style bag. I figured, “If I’m focused on reducing my consumption of plastic bags by knitting the bag, I should further reduce my consumption (of yarn) by using something I already have.” Hooray for conserving… and having a new bag to use instead of plastic bags!

The pattern knit up great. It was a bit of a challenge, and I consider myself a more-than-decent knitter. Very few issues though, just needed to read the pattern carefully and trust it. The horizontal stitch is totally the most fun part of the pattern, but lassoing my needles for the long stitches was pretty fun too. I did find that the longer wrapped stitches needed some coaxing to unravel. Maybe it was the cotton? I guess I’ll get to see when I knit a linen version…

My only change, as evidenced above, was to give it a longer strap. Most of my food shopping is done at the farmers’ market, and I need room in a bag for beet greens to stick out!

Let’s see that horizontal stitch up close and personal:

I foresee making a few of these for people I know. I think one of these with some embroidered tea towels inside would be a great gift to encourage someone towards eco-friendliness… a cute bag to take to the store, plus a way to curb paper towel usage. Awesome!

Can’t wait to take this to the farmers’ market next week!

…and that IS bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress in the bag… if any of you were wondering…

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I’m of the opinion that it’s important to give you, my reader, some kind of history (or genealogy, if you will) of why I’m vegetarian.

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 13 years old. It started from a pretty typical adolescent headspace, centering around coming into an awareness that eating meat meant actually eating another critter. So, at 13, I decided to become vegetarian, largely out of a desire not to eat animals, but with a vague idea that it was “good for the environment.” I stayed vegetarian through my adolescence, which really meant just not eating anything that has meat in it. You know, potato chips, sometimes a veggie burrito or a quesadilla, everything but the meat at dinner, and lots of fake bacon (yum).

Sometime around my junior year of high school, I became aware of the complexities of the meat industrial system, and how simply cutting out meat didn’t necessarily mean I was saving the animals I hoped to spare with my diet. Turns out that purchasing and consuming dairy and eggs frequently contributes to the problematic relationship humans have with the food they eat — from the mistreatment of animals to the money still going towards the meat industry. I decided at that point that going vegan would do more to resist the eating structures I found problematic. At this point, my diet became a political stance.

As a vegan, sometimes I’d do really well and cook incredible food for myself. I learned to eat a lot of foods that varied from the standard fare I was raised on (rice, chicken, broccoli) and really broadened my dietary horizons. Somewhere in college I found myself with not enough hours in the day, and had a difficult time staying well-nourished. I was tired a lot and found I had issues keeping my blood sugar stable — I would be super irritable and feel faint not long after eating a meal. I decided to supplement my diet with some dairy and eggs and see how that felt. At some point, this became the healthiest way for me to eat and I “came out” as a lapsed vegan.

Post-college, I took it upon myself to heal my relationship with food. College left me in a state where I was eating mostly pre-packaged, frozen, or processed foods. My partner pointed out that I ate a lot of fake meat, but not much else. It was totally true! I started really focusing on what I ate. It took a whole year and a lot of taste adjustment to get to a healthy eating place — moving towards a more organic, whole foods, local diet, and being really conscientious not just of what I eat but where my food comes from.

At this point in my life, I feel really good about what I eat and calling myself a vegetarian. I think I finally enjoy eating food that is good for me, and I’m at a place where I can be conscientious about where that food comes from. I’ve come to the belief that food is such a huge part of our lives and deserves more credit and time that it gets. Plus, I’ve discovered that nectarines are really, really tasty…

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Hi! Just getting going, but I’m excited to blog about vegetarianism (especially eating veggies), sustainability, and knitting! Stay posted…

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