Story last updated at 9/23/2009 - 2:28 pm
It's that time of year when a simple six-letter word changes everything for better or for worse. Yes, it's time for school! Though I may not be in school now, I spent a good 20-plus years roaming the halls of various institutions, soaking in the knowledge, and I have come away with some choice bits. One, arguing with teachers rarely gets you anywhere; two, crafting in class is frowned upon (well, unless you're in a craft class of course); and three, always pack a brilliant lunch.
Certainly, lunch packing is an art in itself. It takes great dexterity and skill to timely create an edible masterpiece while avoiding the pre-packaged plastic attack that often comes with a trip to the grocery. So, I've enlisted the skills of local like-minded crafter Anji Gallanos to help think outside the plastic.
Anji, the former owner of The Creating Place (once a paper-crafting haven in downtown Juneau) and one of the current artists in residence at the Juneau Artists Gallery, is both crafty and conscientious. Her latest endeavor, "No New Plastics," is a group she created to explore the idea of reducing her plastic footprint. Her family and twelve others tried using less plastic for one week and found that they "had to get pretty crafty."
The easiest way to cut back on the polymers starts with a quick switch-out of fabric totes for plastic sacks at the grocery. To craft your own in mere minutes, use an old pillowcase and cut a few inches off the top. Take those inches and stick them on as handles. For a more substantial pattern, check out http://tipnut.com/35-reusable-grocery-bags-totes-free-patterns.
Anji noticed in her first days of petrochemical-free living that tote bags were not going to cut it. What about produce bags and sandwich bags and chip bags - oh my! Lunchtime was becoming a plastic nightmare. Her solution? "When we realized there was a barrier, we found a way around the wall," she quipped.
A search on http://etsy.com, a site filled with handcrafted goods, revealed a way for her to get crafty and save time. She ordered mesh fabric produce bags, both washable and reusable, as well as sandwich wrappers. You too can make your own reusable wrappers. Take a large piece of fabric and wrap it around your sammy; later you can use it as a lovely placemat (and crumb-catcher). For something more put-together check out the reusable sandwich wrap at http://instructables.com. With an iron-on vinyl interior, it makes the clean-up from any messy monster a breeze.
Another plastic problem Anji encountered came with her family's constant yogurt consumption. The cups are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable, and there isn't really any way around them. That is, unless you get a little crafty and make your own. The recipe on http://wikiHow.com for "How to Make Yogurt" may not be as easy as grab-and-go yogurt cups, but the freshness and satisfaction in handmade can't be beat.
If this crafty plastic-free plan has piqued your interest, contact Anji at email@example.com or check out No New Plastic Juneau's Facebook page at http://facebook.com. Otherwise, stay tuned for the next Alaska Crafter column where we'll explore ways to recycle that plastic paraphernalia you've got stored up into creative crafty masterpieces. Until then, keep craftin'!
Send local craft inquiries and info to Alaska Crafter Tanna Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org.View her latest creations at http://suiteliving.blogspot.com and http://craftaddicts.blogspot.com.