Friday, January 9, 2015

Making vs. Buying

So when I decided to question myself before every purchase this year, to see if it was something I could make myself or buy locally-crafted, I thought it would be pretty easy. After all, I love to make things for myself and my family. This would be the perfect excuse opportunity to do more of that, save money, and reduce my environmental impact.

Clearly, I was delusional.

I have four reasons why I can't make everything I need:

1. Child #1
2. Child #2
3. Child #3
4. My full-time job

Or, really, time. I don't have time to do everything I want to do, and I wasn't suddenly gifted with more time because I made a New Year's resolution. Once I started to evaluate the things I bought - especially food, I really love anything pre-made and microwavable - I began to realize how difficult it would be to make everything even if I have the ability to do it.

A prime example is our remote control situation. We have a bunch of remotes and they're always getting misplaced. I thought, I should get a basket to keep them in. Then I thought, No, I should make a little container! I made a plan to make a simple fabric bucket out of the leg of an old pair of blue jeans...after all, nothing reduces environmental impact like re-purposing and re-using.  So I went ahead and made it:

I got the idea on New Year's Day. It took me nine days to get around to doing it, and the only reason it happened that fast is because I had off of work yesterday and today because of the weather. Put that together with the days I was off for winter break, and six of those nine days were days off. And it STILL took over a week to do. Once I got started it only took about twenty minutes, but finding the time to do it and prioritize it over all the other stuff I have to do took some time.

I'm not expecting to be able to shift to making everything within a year. But hopefully this mental exercise will help me increase the number of things I make and see the opportunities for being more creative, even if I can't take those opportunities all the time.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My 2015 Resolution

Well it's officially 2015 and I made a few New Year's Resolutions...finish some quilting and knitting projects, acquire more sewing machines. But I wanted to make one real resolution. In 2015, I want to make more and buy less.

One reason is economic. I work for a school district, folks. I don't make a ton of cash. I should save money any chance I get.

Another reason is environmental. Although I don't know the environmental impact of manufacturing and shipping a skirt versus manufacturing and shipping the supplies and fabric I'd use to make a skirt, I suspect that making is environmentally friendlier in the long run because the things I make last longer and will see more use than the mass-produced stuff I buy in stores. And in the case of knit items, I'm sure that making and shipping yarn is much more environmentally friendly than making and shipping sweaters. And, of course, anything I can upcycle or repurpose will save that item from going into a landfill.

Yet another reason is because the more I learn about labor practices overseas, the less comfortable I am purchasing items that were made there.

The last reason, though is because I just love the things I make. I love making things that can be used. I'm not saying that everything I make turns out great - sometimes they don't even turn out okay - but I get sort of a thrill out of using things I made with my own two hands.

This fall I made myself a hoodie. I didn't even really make it, I just altered a hoodie that my husband hadn't worn in forever. I took in the sides, lined the hood with cute fabric, and added ties with the same fabric.

I swear, I wear that hoodie more than any other garment I own. It's partially because I took it and made it into exactly what I wanted. But the other part is that whenever I put it on, I get a flash of satisfaction...I think to myself, I made that. That's awesome, and I want to model that for my kids.

So this year, I won't buy anything without asking myself these two questions:

1. Can I make that?
2. Do I know somebody that can make that?

If I can't make it, I'd rather give my business to someone local who can make it rather than a big business. I imagine that often the answer will be "no"...I can't make oil filters for my car, and although I could knit a pair of socks it probably wouldn't turn out well and it would take forever.

As I go I'll post pictures of my "make more buy less" projects. Hopefully this will be a year with a lot more crafting, a lot more creativity, and less consumerism.