Don't Throw Your Trash in my Backyard

Scholars have explored the concept of “distancing”—humans creating waste and not accepting responsibility for its excess (Szaky, 2014; Foote & Mazzolini, 2012) for some time.  As a result of human recklessness, our landfills are OVERFLOWING with potentially usable objects (Szaky, 2014).  

In shifting my own perspective of found objects and their potential uses, I have become alarmed by excessive consumerism—buying more and throwing away even more.  The benefits of using found objects include: monetary savings as a result of not buying new materials, extending the life of an object that otherwise goes to the trash, transformation of old to new, and experiencing the thrill of the “hunt” when searching for re-purposable supplies.

Textiles are a portion of the waste that we are generating.  There are two types of waste: pre-consumer and post-consumer waste.

Pre-consumer waste is produced by manufacturers before an item goes to the store. This includes fibers too short to spin, yarn waste, loom ends, selvedges, samples, dye lot errors, cutting waste, and faulty products or stock.

Post-consumer waste is a product that has been purchased, used and then discarded due to wear or style.

In my fiber art practice I have tried familiarizing myself with this waste. Largely to explore that concept of distancing it is SO easy to participate in as an American. Our trash and recycling is largely shipped overseas; out of sight and mind.  One of the first things I made with these scraps was bags. Zipper bags for travel, drawstring bags for laundry, gift bags for friends.  

This summer, I am making loads of my favorites: produce bags. Together with Laura Brown, we will be popping up around farmers markets in the Twin Cities to spread the good news of produce bags. This donation-based activity is intended to create access for folks to shop more sustainably and try their hand at zero-waste. Keep an eye out for the schedule and follow Laura and I both on instagram for the up to date announcements! Come say hello!