“Leaf”lets in the Making

July 16, 2008 at 10:11 am Leave a comment

Compiled by Nick

Our beloved book keeper, Pam, has moved us one step closer to truly organic marketing materials. Pam’s update below not only draws attention to the fine (lost) art of hand-made goods, but the history behind the practice.  Below’s an excerpt of Pam’s most recent update:

“I soaked the cut up clothing in water and then, in small batches, processed it in the Hollander beater shown in the photo. A beater is a machine developed in the 16th century to process rag into pulp for papermaking—probably where the phrase beaten to a pulp comes from. It has a motor which turns a wheel with blades and with weights you can control how close the blades are to the bottom which in turn controls the amount of pulverizing. The trick is you don’t want to beat too quickly or you end up with pills or too slowly or you’ll overwork the fiber. This beater is from the 30’s and it works like a champ for beating rag (which is what you all gave me). I had to beat in really small batches as the knit on the socks would stretch and jam the beater if it was too full. The whole process took about 5 hours and then I ended up with that big tub of pulp! Interestingly enough, the clothing was a mixed bag of colors and yet the green prevailed. Hmm….”

As a lover of the simple things in life, this project brings a bright green glow to my soul, and reminds me to look deeper into the afterlife of everyday goods, be they clothes that can be turned into paper, silverware  that can be refashioned as jewelry, or just plain food that can serve as compost for future veggies.  When done even haphazardly in 2006, “Recycling, including composting, diverted 82 million tons of material away from disposal in 2006, up from 15 million tons in 1980, when the recycle rate was just 10% and 90% of MSW was being combusted with energy recovery or disposed of by landfilling.” To imagine that in 2008, as the environmental imperative has become even more pronounced, that we can find creative ways to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions seems not only cool, but imperative. As inspiration, the same EPA website reiterated that “Recycling also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions that affect global climate. In 1996, recycling of solid waste in the United States prevented the release of 33 million tons of carbon into the air-roughly the amount emitted annually by 25 million cars.

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