Saturday, March 14, 2015

Too much stuff

Not the worst, by any means.
Do you ever feel like there's just too much stuff in the world? I've been feeling that way lately. The disgusting NYC snow piles have begun to melt, exposing all the detritus frozen beneath them these past few months. Chicken bones, dog shit, crushed water bottles, dirty diapers, fast food wrappers—all scattered across the street, sidewalk and curb. I love Brooklyn, but it is seriously the filthiest place I've ever lived.

Because NYC is small and dense (landmass-wise) garbage days are epic. The piles of black bags on the city streets can reach mountainous proportions. It is stunning to walk through/by SO MUCH garbage. It makes me reaffirm my commitment to living smaller, making do, mending and repairing instead of buying and disposing.

I've also been reading a lot about "fast fashion" and the politics and problems surrounding that. I can't help but consider how quilt fabric production is a part of that problematic cycle (though less egregious, perhaps, than clothing production). Huge amounts of energy and water are required just to grow the cotton. Plus you have fertilizer and pesticide run-off (not to mention the heavy hand of Monsanto and their appalling exploitation of small farmers), and then the dyeing of textiles which requires huge amounts of water and uses terrible chemicals, etc. It's not good.

This presents some problems for me as a quilter. Also as someone who hopes to make a living at some point as a textile designer. I know there are companies that use organic cotton, and that's great, and something I will explore. But knowing just how much clothing and textile waste clogs landfills, I wonder if I shouldn't be using more reclaimed fabrics. Upcycling stuff from thrift stores. That has almost no appeal to me aesthetically, however. Is it a matter of rethinking my process? Reimagining what my quilts would look like made from shirts instead of yardage? I love the quilts Sherri Lynn Wood makes. But I don't know if I want to work that way. I don't really like thrifting. Or am I just being lazy? I don't know.


  1. In the urban sprawl of Houston, trash is not the problem, but those storage places sprout up like mushrooms! Places to put all the stuff that will no longer fit in our homes. Obviously these people have never emptied their parents houses. Yes! Smaller living is better!

  2. I'm with you. Actually I started back into quilting (first did it back in the '80s) because I was inspired to create quilts only from repurposed fabrics. It felt like it connected me with those folks who quilted out of necessity back in the day, from clothes, etc. That said, it is very challenging to do it. I also have an old stash of '80s fabric, and it is quite dated. I think it's a fun challenge and adventure, to create something out of what is there, rather than pick the "perfect" fabrics from stores or web sites. BUT I get tempted by the gorgeous fabrics being designed!