Tuesday, April 22, 2008

EARTH DAY 2008! The Project -

Happy Earth Day readers! I have a crafty recycling Earth Day project of my very own this year, and a contest to kick it off...

I had this idea for turning old Tee-Shirts into really cool, re-usable totes. Like a lot of my ideas this one has become sort of project. My own personal Earth Day project. I've had a ban on plastic bags in my house for some time now and this is my way of encouraging others to use a little less plastic.

Here's the logistics - Last week I sent an email to basically everyone I know and have an email address for, friends and family, asking them to give me their old tee-shirts, the ones they've been meaning to bring to the Goodwill anyway, the ones in the deepest darkest corners of their closet or drawers, the ones they'll never wear again. And I'll make them into totes. As an added incentive for them to give up their old tees I promised them one completed tote for every three shirts they give me. For example, they give me 3 shirts they get 1 tote, 6 shirts = 2 totes, 9 shirts = 3 totes, you can do the math.

All I ask is that you use it! That's sort of my theme with this project. I asked that you keep some in your purse, or a pile of them in the car, or in your panniers and use them everywhere you shop. Most grocery stores have caught on to this idea and are into it, but it's pretty amusing the response you get when you say "I have my own bags" at places like Target, or Petco, or Lowe's. Really it's fun. The goal is to have less plastic floating around the world. Which brings me to the scary stuff...

WARNING: This paragraph contains the scary stuff - you really should read it. At their most basic level, these plastic bags are made from petroleum and all that that inherently implies in terms of fossil fuel harvesting and harmful emissions. Every year Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags. No that's not a type-o, 100 BILLION. That's the equivalent of dumping 12 million barrels of oil. A goodly portion of those 100 billion bags end up in our landfills - forever! They don't bio-degrade, they do eventually break down into tiny toxic particles, and release toxic gases all the while. Worse yet, the ones that don't end up in the land fill - forever - take flight and end up in our waterways and oceans. I read one estimate that 1 million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles are killed every year by eating or getting tangled up in plastic bags. I read another estimate that 50% of all marine litter is plastic. Want more of the scary stuff? Do a google search on "plastic bags" and if you weed through all the ads from manufacturers and distributors of plastic bags you'll find several conservation groups with articles and FAQS about the horrors of plastic bags. I gleaned most of this scary stuff from a Salon Article.

Back to the regularly scheduled program - my Earth Day project. The response I have gotten from my friends and family has been astounding! Really! In just four days I have collected 110 tee shirts. I have sorted, piled and logged each of those 110 shirts. And I have word from several people that there is more to come. I think a very reasonable goal is 200. I am going to turn 200 old tee shirts into 200 re-usable shopping bags. Think of the plastic that will save.

So what happens with these 200 shirts I'm re-making into totes? They will all be given away for free - All I ask is that you use them! The first batch to be given away will be the 40 (out of the 110) bags that will go back to my original contributors. Several of them have said they intend to use their tee shirt totes as gifts, giving them to people who would maybe not otherwise think of using a re-usable tote. And that is exactly the spirit of this project.

The next batch to be given away will be to the winners of the Kick Off Contest - Yep, here it is the Earth Day Contest: Leave a comment, or if you're shy send an email to bluevalentinepress@hotmail.com, and share either a recycling tip or an Earth Day resolution of your own. Everyone who comments or emails will be entered into a random drawing. You have until Friday April 25th at 11PM cst to enter. I will announce six winners, here on the blog on Saturday the 26th. Each winner will receive 3 re-crafted tee shirt totes and a copy of CROQ Craft Zine The Trash Issue, which is chock full of crafty recycling projects. That accounts for the next 18 bags, bringing us to total of 58 tee shirt totes out in the world.

This is an ongoing project, as it will obviously take some time to sew 200 totes, and I won't stop at 200 if my loved ones keep giving me shirts. My goal is to save the Earth from having to deal with so much plastic. Every shirt that is given to me will be re-crafted into a tote and that tote will be distributed for free. I have visions of myself out front of the local pet food store handing out free totes...

I will continue to blog my progress with this project and share with y'all how the shirts have been distributed. So stay tuned, and don't be shy, enter the contest before Friday night. Happy Earth Day!


  1. At a former office we had no styrofoam cups, only an open shelf in the kitchen labeled "Guest Mugs". On this self was an eclectic collection of mugs contributed by office members and vendors. We all get mugs as promos and don't really use them. This was a way to get them used and avoid harmful throw-away cups at the same time.

    We even removed the cup-dispenser from the water cooler so the health-conscious water-drinkers weren't encouraged to waste.

    There was a small dishwasher in the kitchen, so we could just dump out any used mugs and toss them in for a quick sanitization.

  2. I cut up old, stained teeshirts into sheets that fit my swiffer mop instead of buying the "disposable" sheets.

  3. I just posted a recycled new design on my blog stop on by!
    hoganfe handbags

  4. I recycle a lot and don't even think about that's I'm doing it. I keep containers from fast food and the grocery store to mix paints in, store buttons and beads. I reuse foam brushes most of the time. Was just cleaning out the garage of boxes and boxes of books and clothes to donate and I pulled out several books to pull pages from to make envelopes and pulled clothes to cut up and use in art. no need to waste it all.

  5. What a wonderful idea, I am going to try implementing this idea in my own home town. Thank-you so very much for sharing this.
    I noticed that you are into altered arts and if you would like some free images to use in your art, please stop by my free downloads site. help yourself to as many as you like and check in often as I offer new ones regularly.


    I have also book marked your blog and I would love to do an article on my own blog and point back to your blog some day soon!

    kim aka imagesbykim

  6. Cool project! Thanks for offering CROQ as a prize. Have you checked out www.morsbags.com? They have a project going on similar to yours... but with recycled fabric (not just t-shirts). I'm pretty sure you're aware of the site, though, 'cause I think the article we did on it is in the Trash Issue of CROQ! :) I'll be subscribing to your blog on bloglines! :) - Heather

  7. In the past, my husband and I have been big plastic water bottle drinkers, you know, the kind that you buy in a 24 pack and throw away after the 12 ounces are gone. Over the past 2 weeks, I have committed to stop buying disposable water bottle and use our trusty washable, bigger, better water jugs. My husband was a little weary at first, just because we were dependent on just grabbing a water bottle and running out the door. So far it has been working out well! Not only have we stopped making as many trips to the 'recycling' bin, but I have saved some cash too.

    On another note, I have decided to stop buying things new... flea markets and garage sales are our friends!