I have a very strong need to be as green as possible. Conservation is something always at least on the periphery of my awareness in everything I do, and quilting is no exception.
The complexity, intricacy, beauty and wonder of our natural world astounds me every moment, and I have a fierce drive to protect it. Thus, I plan to use as environmentally-friendly materials as possible. I realize these will come at a premium, as all such things do.
The act of quilting itself seems to me to be a step toward sustainability, too. I have long admired the times when people were, by and large, self-sustaining. I have some delusions, I’m sure, about how brutal and difficult those times could be – medicine and health care were lacking, the work was often back-breaking, and there was no such thing as a “quick drive to the store.”
Still, I think we can have a happy medium. If each of us uses sensible, eco-conservative materials and practices in our daily lives as much as is possible, imagine the impact it would have. If we each grew a portion of our own food in a garden or deck or windowbox, if we each turned the air conditioning down or off altogether during the day, if we each carpooled or rode a bike to work, if we each made our own bedding instead of buying mass-manufactured comforters, even used a few less squares of toilet paper each time…
For many of us, some of these things are simply not practical. I have moved 30 miles away from work, so biking is right out. Still, I can (when the budget allows) buy a motorcycle or scooter to use less gas. We have a large garden in our new house, and I can plant it next year to provide some of our fruits and vegetables. We can plant trees to shade the house, provide natural beauty to the yard and habitat for critters.
I need to do some research into fabrics and fibers. Cotton has some evil aspects to it, especially the non-organic varieties, and there may be viable alternatives. Bamboo batting is something I plan to utilize, shunning the synthetic poly-fil bats. Many, perhaps even most, fabrics have toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde sprayed on them to deter insects (hence the pre-washing recommendation,) but I’m sure there must be organic alternatives available… somewhere.
If I can’t find them locally, am I doing the biosphere any favors by having it shipped to me, thereby adding fossil fuel expenditures to the footprint of my quilt? When I use the convenient, quicker thread cutter on the side of my sewing machine, I waste a few more inches of thread than I would have, had I taken the extra 10 seconds to pick up the scissors and cut it by hand. There are a thousand tiny choices in each day when I can choose to be lazy or eco-conservative. I certainly don’t always make the right choice, but I’m cognizant of my choice and the potential impact it has. This might make me a worse person than those who make the same choice without realizing it’s the wrong one, I’m not sure.
I do try, though, and I think quilting is leaning in the right direction instead of the wrong one.
Here are other people trying to do the right thing:
- Nevile Mars
- NearSea Naturals
- The Organic Trade Association O’Mama Report
- Sew Organic