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

 

Spare Parts Crosses The Pacific

Kara Michele Salinas

Aloha y’all!

by Kara Michele Salinas, Artist & Spare Parts Educator

Spare Parts travelled to Hawaii October 31-November 6, 2017 to learn first-hand about the poisoning our planet’s oceans due to plastic pollution, and meet organizations on Oahu devoted to tackling this crisis. This is an issue important to me, my family and my art and design practice. I knew that what we experienced would directly benefit Spare Parts’ body of knowledge and in turn increase environmental educational awareness in San Antonio.

Our vision: through programing, education and physical development, Spare Parts empowers citizens to reduce landfill tonnage through reuse and environmental accountability.

Our Spare Parts autumn adventure began with a flight from Austin, Texas to Honolulu, Hawaii. Mary Cantu, founder of Spare Parts, and I brought the Latin American-rooted celebration of Dia de Los Muertos to the eco-friendly organization Art Explorium. The relationship between Spare Parts and Art Explorium began four years ago when we were contacted for programming guidance. Read this blog posting by Laura Carter. Carter followed up with Art Explorium two years later in 2015.

The first full day in Hawaii Mary and I installed a Dia de Los Muertos Altar at Art Explorium using preloved materials, of which some were sourced locally in Texas with the remaining found in thrift stores in Hawaii.

We connected with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii at Turtle Bay in the North Shore. At our meeting we learned that Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii does not consist of a building footprint, but rather it is a compost area, storage bins and a storage container for the trash that is collected from Hawaii’s shores. Several of the collected plastics have labels depicting language from other countries, and this served as a reminder that trash does not need a passport to travel. I left the meeting reminded of the urgency to continue educating and practicing the four R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

I then led a creative reuse workshop at Art Explorium focused on teaching a soft sculpture activity for Dia de Los Muertos; a three-dimensional skull. The children also learned how to create paper marigolds and papel picado streamers plus they enjoyed some Mexican hot chocolate. Our trip to Hawaii closed with sightseeing, hiking and a drive along the Hawaiian scenic route to visit beautiful spots such as Diamond Head and Hanauma Bay. Mahalo!

 

The best aloha is a beautiful rainbow over Waikiki Beach, HI. View from a lanai at the Hale Koa Hotel.
Betty Boop hula art found at Bailey’s Antiques & Aloha Shirts, 517 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, Oahu, HI. This is the best place to find a ton of pop culture collectibles from all over the world. From the right: Cantu and me.
Collectables like vintage matchbooks diverted from the trash found at Bailey’s Antiques & Aloha Shirts, Honolulu.

 

Here I’m installing the Spare Parts Dia de Los Muertos Altar at Art Explorium located in the Kaimuki neighborhood of Honolulu.
I led the Spare Parts Dia de Los Muertos skull workshop at Art Explorium. The children in this picture are learning how to repurpose fabric and sewing scraps into a soft skull sculpture.
Here’s our community Dia de Los Muertos Altar at Art Explorium.
There are farm fresh produce stands found along the way to Turtle Bay Beach in the North Shore.
Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii located at Turtle Bay in the North Shore. From left: Luis Linares, Sustainable Coastlines volunteer & advocate, Cantu and me.
This photograph shows a close-up from the inside of the Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii recycling bins. Beach cleaning volunteers find numerous forms of trash discarded into the ocean including ropes, fishing nets, plastic and micro plastics.
The last portion of the trip allowed for sight seeing along Hawaii’s scenic route. Here’s Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. This image illustrates the beauty found in Hawaii and the urgency to keep our coastlines free from pollution.