Playing is how we learn

By now you’ve seen some of the projects I’ve done using plastic bread bags and leftover yarn. I’ve also made some using clothesline rope and yarn. I love playing with ideas (where do I get my ideas? Youtube, Pinterest, and looking at other artist’s work).

Here are some of the ornaments that I made using clotheline rope and yarn – the first one uses the loop back method to create a hole for hanging the ornament (see first picture).

Ornament
Ornament

I have loads of jewelry findings, so I dug through my stash for end caps that had hooks or holes for a way to hang the ornaments, and used those for the two larger ornaments. And these are indeed large, about 6 inches in diameter…which would look great on a big tree or hanging in a window.

Ornament

I am also trying to figure out what to use as a wire form in order to make a tree topper – I would make a “round” ornament and affix it to the “stand” so it could be slid over the top bough or branch. My challenge is both to make it sturdy and pleasing to the eye, as well as to use materials that might otherwise be in the trash/landfill. I’ll let you all know what I come up with. If you have any ideas, please feel free to message!

My current focus project is making a bunch of small “baskets” to use as soft sculpture on a canvas using cut up bread bags (we eat a ton of breads and bagels even when I regularly bake sour dough). Yes, yes, I know I am all over the place – I just like to work on lots of things – and sometimes paint needs to dry or glue needs to set – so I have other things to do while that is happening.

I picked coordinated “Fall” colors – and will make several of these smaller “baskets” which I plan to affix to a framed canvas (which I will paint ahead of time). I could also see these easily on an Autumn themed wreath or as part of a table centerpiece. You are only limited by your imagination! Plus I am prepping some fabric scraps to use to make some baskets, as well!


I was recently interviewed for “A Heart For Writing” with Joan Raymond, and I mentioned that I will be putting together a book on how to do many of these crafted items. I hope you will stay tuned and also give your input about what you would like to know more about and which projects are the most interesting to you.

Until next time, remember “Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose” – every little bit counts!

More upcycles and reuses

I am seriously enjoying finding ways to use fabric scraps, bits of yarn, and plastic bags – that keep them all out of the landfills.

Another basket with wooden bead embellishments, using plastic bread bags as the core to wrap the yarn around.

It is relatively simple to do even if you are not “crafty”.

This mini-mat is made with yarn project leftovers and a yarn I made using old worn out tee shirts (in this case a light grey and a dark grey tee – cut into strips and slip-slotted together into a yarn).

This “table topper” is also made using leftover yarns and strips of silk saris made into a “yarn”. I love the colorful result.

Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose

I save plastic bags. The zip lock type – I wash, dry, and reuse. Bread and english muffin/bagel bags, I save and use for pet waste…but even that makes me feel bad, because it goes into the land fill.

Recently I was browsing Pinterest, looking at what kinds of things I could do with a lot of the waste that goes into the recycle bin – and I found a post where someone was crocheting plastic bag “plarn” into mats for the homeless. I don’t have enough to make “plarn” (plastic bag yarn) but it did remind me that the bags could be used as the core of something else.

Plastic bread bag strips used instead of rope for a coil basket.

I have made a couple of baskets using bread bags cut into three inch strips and folded to make a “rope” to wrap leftover yarn around – and voila! Coiled baskets!

Here are the first two that I have made:

These were relatively easy and a lot of fun — as well as therapeutic, as it gives me something to do while listening to audio books. 🙂 .

I may give a shot at making plarn if I ever amass enough shopping sized bags but in the meantime I will be playing around with using fabric remnants and yarn to make coiled baskets and coasters. Maybe even a rug! It keeps them all out of the landfill and makes fun artsy items for the house.

Do you make stuff with plastic bags? I’d love to hear about it and share it!

The “real” pandemic

It has been hard to focus on anything these last two years. I’ve had a lot of false starts and failed experiments, and I’ve learned a lot.

I’ve learned a lot about pandemics. I’ve learned a lot about how people deal with pandemics. I’ve learned a lot about how people process information (and information overload).

Ultimately the “real” pandemic seems to be a contagious form of rage.

You might wonder what rage might have to do with sustainable living, and learning how to have a higher quality of life with less “stuff”.

Part of the answer is just that there is such a disparity in addressing how to live on less. For those who currently live paycheck to paycheck – transitioning their thinking is not only hard, it may be impossible.

For example: a person making minimum wage and lucky enough to have a place to live, may not have access to fresh vegetables or the time to prepare them, since it is likely they are working two jobs to be able to afford the apartment they are living in. When you live with scarcity, you tend to hold on to and try to accumulate as much as possible. You cannot simply check to see if something gives you joy… you see what I mean?

And with the lockdowns of the last two years, if you were one of those folks doing a minimum wage job, you also found yourself in danger of losing wages due to being sick, or if the business had to close, or worse – being assaulted for trying to maintain mask mandates.

Everyone has had reasons to build up rage. Frustrations and stress are the building blocks to rage. And people who are angry tend to make everyone around them angry, too.

One thing that has become apparent, is that to counter this rage pandemic, we need to help each other. Treat each other kindly. And share our resources.

One way to share is to look for a community Buy Nothing Project Group. the concept is that if you have something that is still usable, instead of throwing it away, you offer it up to someone else in your community, who might need it. Clothing, food, appliances, baby stuff, craft stuff – whatever. And if you need something, you simply ask – and if someone wants to gift you, they do. It keeps things out of the landfill. It shares the abundance in a community. It builds relationships – many new friends have been made through sharing on the Buy Nothing groups.

Just a little reminder to you that you can do something about the rage pandemic, at the grass roots.

Be well.

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

Changing things up a bit

I’ve blogged for years. Literally years – more than a decade, less than a quarter of a century. And while I love blogging, I haven’t been great at self-promotion; it isn’t a strength of mine. I have no problem with promoting others and therein is my epiphany moment.

I have explored a variety of platforms and have decided to publish a bi-weekly newsletter about sustainability for every day life. And I will be scouring the internet to find people who are doing interesting things in sustainability – recycling, upcycling, reusing, growing, foraging, teaching, sharing – whatever it is that is being done to creatively find ways to live responsibly; because I love interviewing people and I love sharing their stories.

If you know someone or ARE a person who is doing something good for the planet CONTACT ME – I would love to talk with you, interview you, share your good works with the world.

Email me at: Natalia@serroc.com and use “Changing things up a bit” in the subject line. Let me know what you are doing, what part of the world (time zone) you are in and whether you prefer a phone call or Zoom or an email list of questions for your interview…and I will answer you to schedule an interview about what you are doing and how it benefits the world. And it will go in my newsletter, and get promoted and shared. Helps you, helps me, and inspires others to do what they can, to make the world a better place (hopefully).

Oil – The Tangled Web

One of the greatest challenges we have as a planet, is to divest ourselves of our dependence on oil. And it is naive to think that we can simply stop drilling and transfer our energy needs to solar and wind, and other alternative sources of energy – because oil is much, much more than an energy source. 

Image created in Canva.com

Oil and its byproducts are used in so many other ways that it can boggle the mind! In an article from Earth Science Week, meant to be used as a classroom study guide we see this alarming statistic:

“…an April 2007 nationwide online survey revealed that 72 percent of the American public does not know that conventional plastic is made from petroleum products, primarily oil.”

A while ago I wrote a scifi/speculative fiction story “Not With A Bang But With A Whimper”. The premise?  What if, in trying to  rid the world of plastics, someone weaponized plastic eating bacteria and it got lose? 

There is, in fact, research being done on bacteria that will eat plastic as a means to reduce the plastic pollution that is ubiquitous now. You can read about this in these articles:

Scientists Accidentally Create Mutant Enzyme That Eats Plastic Bottles

Plastic Eating Bacteria

There is also research being done to genetically engineer bacteria to eat garbage and create plastics (so that we continue to have plastic, just not made from oil) see article here:  Genetically Engineered Bacteria Turn Garbage to Plastic .

But what can we do to reduce plastics and our dependence on oil, over and above its use as fuel?

Well that is where we come to the tangled web. Because petroleum (oil) is used currently in over 6000 products, many of which you probably wouldn’t ever guess. We all know our homes are rife with plastics – combs, glasses, upholstery, the jar of petroleum jelly that sits in most medicine cabinets, utensils, clothing and more.  

But did you realize that it is also in: aspirin, shampoo, deodorant, glue, ink, dyes, candles, crayons, soft contact lenses, detergents, antiseptics, rubbing alcohol, perfumes and anesthetics?

There is a more comprehensive list of the “everyday” items at WHGBETC.com , though by no means a complete list.  Just take a moment to think about how many of these items are in your homes, vehicles, and workplaces.

Now think of what you would have to do or find to replace these items with something that is not made of or with petroleum products. Not so easy, is it?

We cannot simply quit buying plastic bottles of water, and think we’ve done our part in reducing the amount of plastic in the world.  

Recycling helps, see the article in Scientific American: Has Recycling Lived Up To Its Promises  and this article by the Plastic Industry: The Potential of Recycled Plastics.  

The bottom line is that education, awareness, and actively looking for alternatives to the plastics we use, will bring us farther along to the goal of less dependence on oil.  And yes, it will cost us more in the short term, but in the larger picture we will be leaving less of a mess for our children and their children. That is an investment I am willing to make.