Give a darn about t-shirt yarn.

By: Laura Kraus, Spare Parts Volunteer Coordinator

One of the first memories I had of visiting my grandparents in California were the amazing t-shirt rugs made by my great grandmother. Spiraled up and tightly braided, they were multicolored, cushy things perfect for digging your bare toes into as you noted all the work that went into them. Of course, at the time I didn’t pay attention to the work. It was only years later, when I actually attempted to make one that I fully appreciated what goes into a braided t-shirt rug. And I’m not just talking about the braiding and sewing together of the t-shirt yarn! Have you ever stopped and thought about what goes into making a plain old t-shirt?

It takes about 400 – 600 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to make a t-shirt. This really surprised me, as well as scared me, considering how abundant t-shirts are in our society. That’s a lot of water. According to an article in the Economist, making 1kg of fabric of any kind generates 23kg of greenhouse gases on average. Further research on the website Mental Floss led to this surprising information about how a t-shirt is made and where all it has to travel to become the t-shirt that you see in a store: After the cotton is grown on a farm in one part of the world, a process that requires large amounts of water and pesticides, it needs to be treated, woven, and dyed at a facility, sometimes in a totally separate country.

Yes, this is depressing, but we can do something about it, and as a matter of fact, there are people who already are, like Alex Eaves, who made a business out of reusing old t-shirts. He even made a documentary called, “Reuse! Because you can’t recycle the planet” and Spare Parts is featured in it. Eaves prints his message on old t-shirts and sells them to help fund his cause.

What can you personally do about it? Refuse fast fashion. Reuse once you wear out your favorite t-shirt by making it into t-shirt yarn, using one of the tutorials in the links below. Tell your friends. Be social and get the word out on the “interwebs.” We can make a difference together. And don’t forget to tag Spare Parts on social media with a photo of your own reuse creation! #reusegotmethinking #reusesanantonio

Resources on how to make T-Shirt yarn
The Spruce – How to Make T-Shirt Yarn
Instructables T-Shirt Yarn

UpcycledStuff

How to make T-Shirt Yarn

Top Books About Creative Reuse at Your Library

Reuse Got Me Reading!

By Laura Kraus, Librarian & Spare Parts Volunteer Coordinator

If you don’t frequent your local branch of the San Antonio Public Library (SAPL), you should probably take some time on a lazy Sunday to see what’s available: you might be surprised at everything that’s offered. They have programs for adults and children, host musicians and artists and of course they have books! If you don’t have a library card, it’s super easy to get one – go to any of the SAPL branches, present your ID and proof of Bexar County address. You can also pre-register online and get access to online resources.

As a librarian, I was excited to see SAPL has plenty of good print resources about creative reuse, sustainability, and the environment in general. I’ve put together two lists: one for adults and one for the younger crowd. My choices include crafty books to get you inspired to reuse what might be considered trash to some, and turn it into your own personal treasure. I’ve also included informational books to get you thinking about the state of our world, and the ways in which we, as its inhabitants, can make small changes to help out.

So, whether you’re looking for something creative to do on your time off, or a way to introduce a little one in your life to a value of our environment, take a moment to peruse these lists and see what sparks passion in you. #reusegotmethinking

Have any questions? Feel free to contact me (laurak@sparepartssa.org) and I’m happy to help.

 

Young Adult and Children’s Books on Reuse and Sustainability

Recycle This Book : 100 Top Children’s Book Authors Tell You How to Go Green

 

Don’t Throw That Away! : A Lift-the-Flap Book About Recycling and Reusing
Bergen, Lara

 

The Life Cycle of Paper
Costain, Meredith

 

Cool Odds and Ends Projects : Creative Ways to Upcycle Your Trash into Treasure
Scheunemann, Pam

 

Second-Time Cool : The Art of Chopping Up A Sweater
Lindén Ivarsson, Anna-Stina

 

What Can You Do With An Old Red Shoe? : A Green Activity Book About Re-use
Alter, Anna

 

Trash to Treasure : A Kid’s Upcycling Guide to Crafts : Fun, Easy Projects with Paper, Plastic, Glass
Scheunemann, Pam

 

Generation T : 108 Ways to Transform a T-shirt
Nicolay, Megan

 

47 Things You Can Do for the Environment
Petronis, Lexi

Adult Books on Reuse and Sustainability

1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse : Remake, Restyle, Recycle, Renew
Johnson, Garth.

 

Garbology : Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash
Humes, Edward

 

Use Less Stuff : Environmentalism for Who We Really Are
Lilienfeld, Robert M

 

Better : The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living
Caldwell, Nicole

 

Modern Upcycling : A User-Friendly Guide to Inspiring and Repurposed Handicrafts for a Trendy Home
Zacke, Susanna

 

Don’t Throw it Out : Recycle, Renew, and Reuse to Make Things Last
Baird, Lori

 

Rubbish : Reuse Your Refuse
Shoup, Kate

 

Refashioned Bags : Upcycle Anything into High-Style Handbags
Blakeney, Faith.

 

Stylish Remakes : Upcycle Your Old T’s, Sweats and Flannels into Trendy Street Fashion Pieces
Room, Violette

 

The Art of Cardboard : Big Ideas for Creativity, Collaboration, Storytelling, and Reuse
Zimmer, Lori

 

Meet Laura Kraus, Spare Parts Volunteer Coordinator

Welcome, Laura Kraus!

By Jeanne Cantu, Vice President
Friends of Spare Parts Board of Directors

Laura Kraus, Spare Parts Volunteer Coordinator

I had the pleasure of recently chatting with Spare Part’s new Volunteer Coordinator, Laura Kraus. Laura is a children’s librarian for the San Antonio Public Library. Her experience and enthusiasm for volunteerism and her recognition and passion for reuse make her a perfect fit for Spare Parts. Laura was born and raised in San Antonio, attended San Antonio College and majored in English at Incarnate Word University. Following that, she graduated from the University of North Texas where she earned a Librarian Degree. When she worked in Austin, she did a blog that addressed environmental perspectives. Now that she’s back in San Antonio, Laura stated that she wants to share her commitment with children to help them realize the power of reuse in today’s world. Laura is definitely an asset to Spare Parts and the San Antonio community!