ScrapHappy January 2020

I have decided, this year, to make a concerted effort to use some of the interesting materials that I have been accumulating for the past few years. You know (or, perhaps you don’t), the sort of thing that you think “I won’t throw that away,  it’s bound to come in useful sometime”. Well, 2020 is going to be the “Year of Useful” and ScrapHappy posts should prompt me to do something with all this useful scrap at least once every month.

January started with a special make from new materials (more of that in a future post), but last Saturday afternoon the rain poured down and I decided to use the time to do some dismantling. As I have mentioned before, Sam is the destroyer of zips, metal rivets and other fastenings. Over the years she has severely chewed a variety of cushions, bags, hats and coats. Her most annoying bout of destruction involved two Gortex jackets. I was determined that these would not go to waste and I have salvaged a bit of fabric from them in the past to make waterproof patches for the knees of Mr Snail’s gardening jeans, as well as some Velcro and fastenings but mostly they have been squirreled away awaiting inspiration. Said inspiration arrived in the form of bag-making… all I needed to do was salvage all the bits.

I got out my scissors and stitch-ripper and set to. I discovered that there was also another old more traditional waterproof coat with the two Gortex ones, so I had three sources of “scrap”. I started by removing all the cords (some elasticated and some not) and associated toggles and sliders. Then I found a piece of coated wire in the brim of one of the hoods so I took that out. There were several pieces of Velcro which I unstitched, as well as a couple of zips that Sam had missed on one of the jackets.

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Extracted Hardware

Next I spotted that some pockets with zips that were still intact and wondered if they could be used on some of my bags, so those came off as whole as possible.

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Pockets

Finally I started removing sections of fabric, both mesh lining and Gortex, including cutting a sleeve to make a hood for Daisy (she gets very wet ears in the rain).

And then I started to feel unwell. One of the jackets was completely dismantled, one partially and the non-Gortex one had just had the cords removed. I drank a cup of tea, watched the TV for a bit and then started to cook dinner, at which point I announced to Mr Snail that I felt sick and needed to go and lie down. After more than 12 hours in bed and only having consumed water and red bush tea, I was feeling better and wondering what had happened.

In fact, I think that I was poisoned: having spent more than 2 hours handling the Gortex and breathing in fibres (it certainly made me sneeze), I wonder whether whatever it is coated with got into my system. It certainly felt like a reaction to something toxic. From now on I will limit my contact with it and I plan to do some research to find out whether I’m right. So, do be careful with your scraps, they might just give as good as they get!

Anyway, the bits and pieces are now being incorporated into bags that will have little contact with the skin and I hope to show you the results next month.

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I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of other folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan (me)Karen,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Sue and Sunny

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

More stealth plastic

After Mr Snail’s recent discovery of plastic in the ‘plastic-free’ Easter egg he was given, I have been thinking about ‘hidden’ plastics… you know the sort of thing – plastic coatings on the inside of cans and jar lids, plastics in your clothes and plastics in your toiletries. Yes, you read that right “in your toiletries” – I don’t mean around your toiletries in the form of plastic containers, I mean toothpaste and body washes that contain plastics. Specifically tiny plastic beads, otherwise known as microbeads.

Left: Nilgiri; Right: Yunnan

Plastic-free tea

Now, as you know, I was rather upset to discover a while ago that there was plastic IN my teabags and, as a result, I have converted to using loose tea and buying it unpackaged, using my own containers. So, the last thing I wanted to hear was that there might be secret plastics in my toiletries too. When I started investigating further, I discovered that all sorts of plastics – polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethlyl methacrylate (PMMA) and  nylon – are put into all sorts of products – face soaps, body washes, toothpastes, lip gloss and nail polish. There are even plastic microbeads in some anti-aging makeup… you can fill the creases on your face with gunge containing plastic – nice!

Because these fragments of plastic are so small, they are easy for us to ignore and we might consider that this means they are not a problem, but in fact there are real issues. Microbeads don’t get filtered out of waste water in treatment plants, so they get right into the environment where they absorb toxins and are then consumed by aquatic life… some of which gets eaten by humans (poisoned plastic sashimi anyone?):

Plastic microbeads absorb persistent organic pollutants (long-lasting toxic chemicals like pesticides, flame retardants, motor oil and more) and other industrial chemicals that move up the food chain when the toxic-coated beads are consumed by fish and other marine organisms. A single microbead can be up to a million times more toxic than the water around it. (Plastic Microbeads 101)

And it’s all unnecessary! The plastic beads are used because they are slightly abrasive, but there are natural products that are suitable too – like good, old-fashioned pumice, or fully biodegradable apricot shells. Sadly, microbeads are cheap and not too abrasive, so you can be use products with them in every day (thus, potentially increasing consumption).

No microbeads in my locally made soap, or my homemade cotton wash cloth

No microbeads in my locally made soap, or my homemade cotton wash cloth

When I investigated my toiletries, however, I was able to breathe easy… my organic toothpaste was free of microbeads, as was my soap (it’s made by a local artisan, so I know exactly what’s in it, including a complete absence of palm oil). I don’t wear any makeup and I don’t have specific face wash (exfoliating or otherwise), so no worries there either. I’m certainly glad that I haven’t found another part of my life that I need to change because of stealth plastic!

If you want to make your concerns about these hidden plastics known, I encourage you to sign the petition on The Story of Stuff web site… just click here.

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There is sound scientific research demonstrating the problems, including:

D. Barnes, F. Galgani, R. Thompson, M. Barlaz, Accumulation and fragmentation of plastic debris in global environments. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 364, 1985-1998 (2009). In 2012, scientists found micro-beads numbering more than 450,000 per square kilometer in parts of the Great Lakes (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X13006097)

Yukie Mato, Tomohiko Isobe, Hideshige Takada, Haruyuki Kanehiro, Chiyoko Ohtake, and Tsuguchika Kaminuma, Plastic Resin Pellets as a Transport Medium for Toxic Chemicals in the Marine Environment, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2001, 35 (2), pp 318–324 (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es0010498?journalCode=esthag)

Chelsea M. Rochman, Eunha Hoh, Tomofumi Kurobe & Swee J. Teh, Ingested plastic transfers hazardous chemicals to fish and induces hepatic stress, Scientific Reports 3, Article number: 3263 (http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/131121/srep03263/full/srep03263.html)

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