Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Waste not, want not

Like many of you, I really dislike wasting things. For example, I'll say that the majority of the time, I'm pretty successful in the kitchen, so when I bomb the occasional dinner, I think I'm more upset about wasting good ingredients than the fact that my family didn't really enjoy it. So I really strive to use what I have in my home to make it into something useful, beautiful, delicious and/or practical. Whether it's "recycling" last night's crockpot brisket into tonight's chili or using up every scrap of fabric until it's just too tiny to do anything with, it's part of my biology to make things last as long as possible.

I picked up this book on a whim at the library, as it caught my eye on the "New and Interesting" shelf.

We don't eat out much, but I've been intrigued about how this author decided to not eat out for two years while living in New York (Hello, amazing restaurant/deli/pizza parlor/bagel shop capitol of the world!) and discover the ease and satisfaction of cooking for herself. I'm about 1/3 of the way through it, and already I'm fantasizing about being labeled a "frugalista," defined as "a person who lives a frugal lifestyle but stays fashionable and healthy by swapping clothes, buying secondhand, growing own produce, etc." Here's even a blog dedicated to it. Now, the book author talks about this concept in the middle of the chapter about freeganism, aka dumpster diving (which I don't plan on doing anytime soon), but the idea of the frugalista and making someone else's trash into my treasure goes right along with my waste-free, pro-recycle philosophy.

So, what do you like to recycle? For me, it's fabric. I pay good money for good fabric, and I don't have the budget or the storage space to have a whole bunch. OK, mostly it's the budget thing, as I can ALWAYS find room for more fabric. :-) Anyway, I can't bring myself to waste one bit of it without recycling it into as many projects as I can get out of it.

Here's a stack n' whack quilt I made a couple of years ago, which resulted in quite a stack of little leftover pieces.

What to do? I like to make anything from mini paper-pieced quilt blocks and table runners like this one, to hand-pieced hexagons and scrappy flowers. And when they're even too small for those, I stitch up the scraps to make pretty note cards. I made dozens of these in packets of 3 for stocking stuffers this past Christmas. And it was a gift to me as well, because it used up a bunch my scraps in a cute and useful way!

During my mom's annual quilt retreat, she collects buckets and bins full of teeny, otherwise unusable scraps, "snippets" and shreds of fabric and sends them to a crafter in Arizona where she uses them to stuff pillows for needy children.

Think the selvages are no good? I'm saving mine up...maybe for something like this:

Or, how AMAZING would this be???

How do you like to stretch your fabric stash as far as it will go? If fabric isn't your thing, what's your favorite thing to recycle, or better yet, UPcycle? I'd love to know!


  1. Love these ideas! Thank you for inspiring to reuse/recycle more and motivate me to go work on a happy project.

  2. i don't know if any of my recycling is as pretty as your ideas, but one of my favorite things to do is, when my husband has worn out a dress shirt beyond repair or wash, is to cut it up into strips and use them to wax my legs with. maybe this idea isn't for the faint of heart...BUT, waxing with a lemon and honey mix is good for the skin AND planet, and then you aren't throwing away dangerous razor blades that aren't biodegradable.

  3. I don't like that dress...but if you do, I expect to see you model it at the quilt retreat in September. ;) Oh, I LOVE my quilted notecards. What a great idea!