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One Can Challege: reducing waste from hobbies

EnviromomchallengeDictionary.com defines a hobby as:

an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation: Her hobbies include stamp-collecting and woodcarving.

Me? I dabble in sewing, dream about learning to knit, hang onto the occasional interesting stamp, and beat my head against the door from time to time (which might pass for woodcarving). I've failed thoroughly at cross-stitch and scrap-booking. I bought a set of crochet needles and bag of yarn at a rummage sale ages ago, but it still sits untouched in my craft closet. I obsess over making Halloween costumes for my daughters each year, but it would be a stretch to call that pleasurable or relaxing since I always run out of time, and I usually drop everything and turn it into my October occupation. So, truth be told, I have no hobbies. I write from no sort of authoritative position when it comes to reducing waste generated from hobbies. But that won't stop me. I still plan to post about reducing hobby waste today! Lucky you!!

Let's start with some of the hot hobbies: knitting and scrap-booking. Knitting seems to be an ideal hobby. It is portable. Do you see those knitters knitting all around town like I do? They can't seem to sit still for more than a minute without pulling out a knitting project and just knit-knit-knitting. I love that they also will practically unravel an entire sweater if they notice they made a mistake on one stitch (several hundred stitches back!!) Yarn is infinitely reuseable. Knitting makes for lovely, hand-crafted "made with LOVE" type gifts. So unless I'm missing a big part of the picture, knitting ranks high a low-waste producing hobby.

Now let's take scrap-booking. We take lots of digital pictures. We organize them on our iPhoto library. From time to time, when we take a particularly nice picture (or for that matter, a particularly embarrassing one) we send it via email to interested parties. From time to time, we print them out and mail them to non digital people like great-grandmas. Where I've never excelled is putting them into plain old photo albums or their fancier cousins: scrapbooks. I've seen the gorgeous, lovingly produced scrapbooks that friends slave over. I am in awe. But it's not something I'm capable of. I did attend a "cropping party" with a friend once, and what jumped at me first thing was that if we used photo editing software like Photoshop to crop images online, it would save a lot of wasted, expensive non-recyclable photo paper that ended up in the garbage can. All the other cut up bits of fancy paper can be recycled.

If I try to claim any kind of hobby, sewing is my best bet. One tip I got from Amy Karol of Angry Chicken is to buy sewing items from rummage sales -- cut cloth that was never used, half-used trims, spools of thread, etc. or even re-purposing vintage fabrics (i.e., making an apron from a vintage linen napkin). Love this idea, and I got a bag of great sewing items from the last rummage sale I went to. The cloth lunch-box napkins that are included in our One Can A Month swag will be custom sewed for your child using some of these great finds. As for the little bits of fabric that are leftover from sewing projects, there are people out there who can reuse them. Quilters from Project Linus can use fabric scraps. Our local newspaper just ran a story on a bunch of local organizations that will reuse fabric scraps (if we have them locally, I'm sure you do too). Or there's the Good for Girls project of making cloth menstrual pads for women in developing nations. Again, I'd rate sewing as a fairly eco-friendly hobby. Cloth, if taken care of, can live many lives. Small bits can find a purpose.

Heather recently posted about utility waste, including eco-friendly handling of paint and varnishes and scrap wood, so I'm going to reference that post for hobby wood-workers. One thing I recently figured out was that I needed to organize all my craft items. I have little pots of paint, sewing trims, glitter glue, pipe-cleaners, raffia, etc. and by putting them all in once place -- a craft closet -- it helped me track my inventory instead of just running out to the store and buying something new for every little craft project I take on.

Most hobbyists I know are passionate about what they do. It is pleasurable and relaxing for them. Their hobbies are a big part of who they are. So as adults, it's not like you can easily kick a hobby habit because it's not eco-friendly. Where we do have influence is with our children. Granted, kids come pre-wired in many ways. And they sometimes are inclined to try a hobby already practiced by a family member (to be like them, to spend quality time together). But we also can direct them toward eco-friendly hobbies. For example, we can suggesting stamp collecting that reuses something small vs. collecting Littlest Pet Shop toys (which promotes consumption of new, low quality, non recyclable things). So far my kids aren't hobbyists of any kid. Hmmm. Maybe that has something to do with my lack of role-modeling...

Admittedly, I am not a hobbyist. We'd love for you to share waste reduction challenges associated with hobbies that go on in your home. Or share ingenious ways you've learned to reduce waste or reuse with your hobbies. If you've struggled with it, and found a solution, there's no doubt someone else will be grateful to benefit from your knowledge.


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