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Small Action, Big Effect

By Laney Tarr, ricRACK Summer Intern

All around the world, communities and ecosystems are facing crises stemming from climate change. Twenty million people a year are forced to evacuate their homes because of changing weather, 90% of coral reefs are at risk of bleaching due to warming ocean waters, and at least 75 million children are experiencing food insecurity due to the impact of extreme weather on the agricultural system. Humans are the primary contributor to climate change, with over 80 billion item of clothing bought each year. Yet, less than 15% of those pieces are actually recycled, resulting in over 34 billion bounds of waste produced each year from textiles alone. The weight of climate change can make taking steps to combat the phenomenon feel staggeringly unsurmountable, but it does not need to be. By implementing small lifestyle changes to our own lives, we can make significant strides as a society towards a greener planet.

At ricRACK, we want to make sustainability more accessible to all. Try adding the following actions to your own routine today, and we’ll be here to help you!

  • Use cloth napkins

Ditch your one-use paper napkins for unique cloth napkins! Stop by ricRACK and pick up our new cloth napkins, or custom-make your own and pick out a fun fabric. This is a small change that is both cuter and cleaner!

  • No-waste dish sponges

Swap out your two-week use, plastic-made sponge for a home-made, clean-fabric sponge! Here is a quick tutorial on how to create your own eco-friendly sponge:

  1. Cut 2 pieces of 4 1/2 x 6" from the mesh fruit bag.

  2. Place one piece of cotton with the right side up, place the two pieces of mesh next, then place the other piece of cotton with the right side down on the mesh. Next, place 2 to 4 pieces of the cotton batting on top. Pin and sew the layers, leaving a 3-inch opening in one of the long sides.

  3. Clip the corners to remove bulk. Be careful not to clip any of the stitches.

  4. Turn the right side out by pulling the fabric layers through the opening.

  5. Tuck in the raw edges of the opening. Pin and topstitch around the entire sponge. Be sure to remove the pins as you sew. Topstitch around the sponge a second time — this time, 1/4-inch in from the first topstitch line.

  • Upcycle your clothing

Instead of tossing out your clothing when you’re ready for something new, bring it into ricRACK and create something new! Join us for a Community Sew or Wear and Repair class where a knowledgable and creative instructor can help you turn your favorite pair of old jeans into shorts, sew patches or embroidery onto your most-used jacket to give it a new look, or transform your old T-shirts into fabric for a one-of-a-kind quilt! Fabric doesn’t have one lifecycle – give it a new life and be inventive.

  • Create reusable paper towels

Turn fabric scraps and old flannels into a new kitchen accessory! Follow along the steps to make your own reusable paper towels:

  1. Measure two pieces of 10” x 15” fabric (this can be an absorbent piece and a linen, two absorbent fabrics, etc – again, just use whatever you have on hand).

  2. Put your right sides together and pin along the edge. Sew all sides 1/4” from the edge but be sure to leave a small gap to turn the towel inside out.

  3. Cut the corners so that when you flip the towel inside out, the corners lay nice and flat.

  4. Flip the towel inside out and iron along the edges. Now, you can sew the hole closed. Be sure to get as close to the edge as possible.

  5. For a cleaner look, hand stitch this closed.

  6. Optional Idea: sew two straight lines about an inch in on the top and bottom to prevent the towel from getting bunched up in the wash or during use.

  • Shop second-hand for “new” garments

When your closet is in need of a new item of clothing, shop second-hand! ricRACK has a wide variety of pieces for individuals of all ages that are in good condition and looking for a new owner. Keep in mind: it’s possible to over-consume even when you’re purchasing second hand. So, shop mindfully and follow the 30 rule – only buy a garment if you would wear it at least 30 times.

Sustainable practices are not out of reach, and anyone can make them attainable. In reality, our lives are full of habits that only need minor tweaking to have a meaningful impact – especially when we all commit to it. Get creative, sew your own pieces, turn something old into a restored treasure, and both you and the earth will reap the benefits.


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