Learn to Make T-shirt Yarn as Part of a Zero Waste Lifestyle | Janet Kramer | Skillshare

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Learn to Make T-shirt Yarn as Part of a Zero Waste Lifestyle

teacher avatar Janet Kramer, Teacher / Nurse /Zero Waster

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (29m)
    • 1. Reuse as Part of a Zero Waste Lifestyle

    • 2. Today's Topic? Reuse

    • 3. Reuse Ideas Part 1

    • 4. Reuse Ideas Part 2

    • 5. Reuse Ideas Part 3

    • 6. Reuse Fast Fashion Items

    • 7. Class Project Make T-shirt Yarn

    • 8. Conclusion Rethink Before You Buy or Consume

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About This Class

If learning to live a more sustainable lifestyle is at the forefront of your mind, this course is for you.

Since the first Earth Day in 1970, we have all heard the slogan “reduce, reuse, recycle”.  Although this concept is a good start, it is not enough. Despite environmentalist’s best efforts, it is known that incredibly large amounts of plastic are currently making their way into the oceans every minute! The Zero waste philosophy has an expanded hierarchy of actions to take to protect our environment. It now has 5Rs. They are: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot.

In Learn to Make T-shirt Yarn as Part of a Zero Waste Lifestyle, you will learn ways to activate the reuse R and how to anchor your learning in the real world! This fun course, will help beginners and advanced zero wasters learn to create or update their version of a zero waste lifestyle.

People are constantly asking me how to make t-shirt yarn. That’s why it is the hands-on project for this course.  Armed with a pair of sharp scissors and an unwanted t-shirt, you will learn to reuse by harvesting the raw material from a t-shirt.

We all agree, it is time for each of us to give back and take care of our beautiful planet. You can be part of this positive change. Are you ready to up your reuse game?

Meet Your Teacher

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Janet Kramer

Teacher / Nurse /Zero Waster



I am Janet Kramer from Yupcycle. I am a teacher, a nurse and a zero waster for more than 30 years.

Zero wasters are people who help to save the planet by making the least waste possible. Have you wondered, ‘How can I change my actions to be as sustainable as possible?” My course will help to answer this question with both the ‘why’ and the practical ‘how’. It will help you to create your version of a sustainable zero waste lifestyle.

You will learn to swap your current way of doing things in favor of less wasteful practices. I will show you how going zero waste can deliver many benefits to you. It can help you to be healthier, happier and to live a less stressed life. It will save you time and money all while giving you the... See full profile

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1. Reuse as Part of a Zero Waste Lifestyle: If learning to live a more sustainable lifestyle is at the forefront of your mind, this course is for you. In Reuse as Part of a Zero Waste Lifestyle, you will learn seven things to activate the reuse R such as how to stop overconsumption, ways to be more resource conscious, and how to anchor your learning in the real world. In this fun course, you will learn at your own pace. It will help you create your version of a zero waste lifestyle. People are constantly asking me how to make t-shirt yarn. That's why it's the hands-on project for this course. Armed with a pair of sharp scissors, you will learn to up cycle. You will harvest raw material from an existing item and make it ready to be converted into something new. I'm Janet Kramer from Yupcycle. I am a teacher, a nurse, and a zero waster for more than 30 years, I have curated up to date reuse information for you and squeezed it all into this course. I'll be along to give tips, site examples, present lectures, tell anecdotes, and challenge you to move forward on your zero waste journey. We all agree it is time for each of us to give back and take care of our beautiful planet. You can be part of this positive change. Please join me for this creative, zany, quirky and fun course. Zero wasters and everyone else, are you ready to up your reuse game? 2. Today's Topic? Reuse: Hi everyone. Today's Video? Reuse. Reuse is a challenging R. It is the center of the zero waste pyramid, and it has two important jobs: It asks us to reduce how much we consume. And, it asks us to reduce the amount of waste that we throw out, rot, or recycle. In English, the prefix "re" means "again" or "again and again". This is a perfect match with the reuse R. Sometimes I think of reuse as, "repeat" as in reuse your stuff again and again. Some good zero waste "re" words that fall under reuse are: refurbish, refinish, refill, repair, regift, reupholster regenerate and even repeat. Most of us have not grown up using the refuse and reduce R's. Due to our past decisions and actions, we accumulated a lot of stuff. Now to reduce our environmental footprint, we are faced with reusing what we already have. For example, in the past, you may have received one of these with your dry cleaning. Now, you have a metal hanger that you do not need or want. Do not automatically recycle it. Instead, activate zero waste principles in the correct order. If you take the time to think about it, you will realize that there are lots of ways to reuse metal wire. For example, you can use it to hang your bird feeder rather than cutting a piece of new wire from the role. Reuse saves resources and energy by preventing the need for new items to be created, manufactured, and consumed. Reusing items keeps materials at their highest value for the longest amount of time or even indefinitely. Every fall, I remove and store my bird feeder and the wire hanger. Each spring, I rehang it without any consumption and no waste. It's obvious that this reuse action saves me time and money while it helps the environment. In the 1920s, the 30th president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, is credited as saying, "Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without". Later, The Press slightly changed the phrase. They made it popular with the words, "Use it up". Maybe the Oval Office can get back to teaching reuse and zero waste principles. At the individual and family level, reuse is about preventing our stuff from going to landfill. Once we're done using an item to its full potential, the reuse R reminds us to look for ways to use the raw material. Don't worry that this kind of thinking seems difficult. Everyone can learn to be a zero waster. It is a gradual process. Know that your personal and family efforts really do make a difference. 3. Reuse Ideas Part 1: Here are seven ideas to help you activate the reuse R. 1- Stop consuming things and their packaging When you reuse items, you automatically reduce harm on the planet. Unfortunately, new products almost always come with unwanted packaging. One hugely impactful strategy is to discover how you can swap disposable products for reusable products. Once you implement a system, reusable items become just as convenient as disposables. For example, remembering to bring your reusable bags can save you money and help you refuse wasteful single use bags. I keep one reusable bag in my purse. I store several reusable bags in my car. That way, they are always available to me when I shop. 2- Buy and use reusable items Disposables are more expensive and harm the environment. They also cost you time. There is a misconception that using disposables is faster and easier. This is not true. The tasks are just different. Instead of washing dishes or placing them in the dishwasher, the host spends their time shopping and storing new paper dishes, and then collects and stores dirty dish trash. Almost all disposable products can be swapped for a reusable alternative. With disposables, you make shopping trips, bring home stuff, then take time to store it. Disposables create clutter. Ugg clutter! Disposables are a hassle, especially when not all of them are used up and you find yourself with little packs of mismatched patterns and sizes sliding all around in your cupboards. More time is wasted to keep disposables in order as you try to use them up. Next, when the disposables are soiled, the host is stuck sorting garbage from green bin material. Next, you must store bags or bins of dirty, mushy dishes with food scraps until green bin collection or garbage day. Storing trash can include increased use of plastic bags, lost garage space, attracting rodents and insects, as well as messes and bad smells. Zero wasters avoid all of these nasty jobs. I doubt anyone enjoys cleaning out the garbage can. Yuck! Incredibly, society has moved so far in the direction of disposables that even expensive, long-lasting things such as bicycles, pool toys and rubber boots are being briefly used and then discarded. Here is a great way to avoid this situation. You can maintain both the perceived and real value of items by avoiding ownership by one person in your family, such as "This is Mark's toboggan". Consider instead calling it "The family toboggan". This way, the toboggan is available to be used year after year by anyone who wants to play outside in the snow. This works great for skipping ropes, baseball bats, computers, board games, beach toys, scooters, balls, towels and so much more. Consider the contrast of calling and thinking about an item such as "inline skates". versus thinking of them as "The hand-me-down inline skates that I got from my older sister". By simply calling them hand-me-downs, the skates lose some of their appeal for reuse by other family members. 3- Use what you already have Eliminate buying duplicate sets of similar things. For example, you can reuse the same dishes, cutlery and cups in the kitchen, dining room, and on the patio. When you move away from needless consumption and instead repeatedly reuse your existing items, it is time to congratulate yourself. This is because you are actively using reuse ideas to improve your zero waste skills and abilities. 4. Reuse Ideas Part 2: I am here to let you know that your zero waste efforts do make a difference to the planet. Don't be intimidated. A zero waste lifestyle is not about being perfect. After all, zero does not really mean zero. The name "zero waste" is meant more as an encouraging statement. The myth is that you are not a true zero waster until your family is producing only a single jar of waste in a year. This is completely too much pressure and not true. It is more than okay to realize and accept that you are still producing some waste. In fact, zero waste is really about making your best effort in the right direction. That is why this video will help you focus on learning 3 specific ways to activate the reuse R by being resource conscious. 4- Be resource conscious Consider trying the 3 following strategies to reduce your family's environmental impact. Share Sharing is a great way to have fewer items used more often by more people. Share with a group of people such as neighbors, the community, or family members. Some ideas include, use a car share, or rideshare instead of owning your own car. Borrow tools, (kitchen, gardening, crafting, workshop tools) that you don't need as often. House sit instead of renting a hotel room. Join a tool lending library. Or, use the resources of the public library. Use community art, business, or workshops spaces. The second way to be resource conscious is to shop and buy zero waste style. When selecting an item to buy or consume, rethink the following: In its original form, is it designed for many uses, reuse, and a long life? Is it versatile with many practical uses? For example, I love using this well-designed casserole. It is an awesome zero waste choice. It was given to me second-hand. And when I'm done with it, it can again be passed on to someone else. I like it so much because it can go from stove top to freezer. It goes from the table to the fridge for storage, and then leftovers can be reheated in the microwave. And... when you take it out of the microwave, the handles are not hot so you do not need to use oven mitts! Hmm, I sound like I could be a sales associate for this kind of product! For any item to be zero waste, it should be durable and easy to repair. For example, plastic becomes brittle and breaks over time. It is nearly impossible to repair, rot or recycle. Metal, cotton and leather items are easily repaired. Wood items and upholstered furniture can be refurbished. Ask yourself, is it refillable? Such as mason jars, tiffins, or any kind of glass bottle. When you need to get an item, try to get one with a cord. That way, it won't need batteries. For example, a drill that plugs in can be used for many decades. An extension cord can also be used for many years and allows power tools to be used in many awkward locations. If you need to get new stuff, ask yourself if the item is made of materials that can rot or easily be recycled at the end of its useful life, such as glass, paper and metal. Natural fibers such as silk, linen, cotton, wool and leather can rot and become compost. Synthetic fibers such as polyester, polar fleece, and nylon do not rot. These fibers and single-use plastics are the enemy of zero wasters. They become waste sitting in landfills or drifting in the oceans for hundreds of years. The third way to be resource conscious is to extend the life of your things. Teach your family to handle your things with proper care. For example, simple things such as implementing a "Do not touch the walls policy" means you will be spared the time, money and effort of repeatedly repainting them. Do maintenance and repairs when necessary to make your things last longer. Refurbish, or refinished your existing items. You can search online for "How to" videos that can help you with inspiration and in executing these sorts of projects. People can learn skills that help them to extend the life of their things. Know that it is possible to go from resourcelessness to resourcefulness. A zero waste lifestyle will save you the time so that you can gradually learn these satisfying skills. 5. Reuse Ideas Part 3: In this video, I present the last 3 out of 7 reuse ideas. 5- Upcycle A good method of reuse is called upcycling. Upcycling is the opposite of recycling. Upcycling occurs at the end of a product's life. It is the process of giving a "Second life" to a product by transforming it into a new product or into materials, of even better or equal quality materials. Upcycling can be done using any part of a product, including the product itself, the byproducts, or it's waste. Upcycling can also be thought of as "creative reuse". For example, you are upcycling when you sew up an old pair of jeans to create a tote bag. The class project is a form of upcycling. You will learn how to harvest the material from knit clothing and upcycled it into t-shirt yarn as the raw material needed to make a new item. Often, items that have been upcycled can still be recycled after the end of their second life, third or fourth, et cetera. However many times you can reuse it, you are upcycling it. It is at the very end, when you can't think of a new reuse that you then, only then, recycle. In this example, the fabric from the jeans becomes a bag and then rags before being composted. Instead of recycling or disposing of an item, stop and ask yourself, "What can I do with... fill in the blank? You are upcycling when you save, for example, the fat drippings from bacon. You can use this bacon fat and swap them as the fat required in a waffle batter dough. You are using the byproduct of the bacon as a new ingredient for cooking. Who doesn't love bacon, right? 6- Buy natural Natural products such as hemp, cotton, leather, and bamboo can rot. They are a good choice as you can turn them into compost at the end of their useful lives. This is circular and more sustainable than what occurs with plastic and synthetic materials. It is much easier to buy a natural product then to try to find upcycled solutions for non compostable everlasting things. For example, to support bats in their ability to pollinate plants we built a wooden bat house with an upcycled plastic roof. We reused the plastic from a windshield washer fluid bottle to protect the roof from the elements. This will help it to last longer. It also helps to keep the interior of the house dry for the bats. In this case, we've upcycled the plastic and used a natural material. It is a great idea to mix, match, and combine. The 7th reuse strategy I want to share with you today is to reuse broken, stained or unwanted items. Don't throw things out. Instead, before you do that, learn to "see" the remaining value in your family's items. Train yourself to rethink and you may "discover" remaining value in your things. Save them as the raw materials to create something "new" in the future. For example, a plastic yogurt container can be cut to make plant tags. Using a marker, you can write the name of the plants and seeds. You will be able to stick them in the garden to identify where you planted seeds. Saved from year to year, these tags can help you out for many years of service! It is a great idea to periodically come back and review the three "Reuse Ideas" videos. They will remind you about ways to activate the reuse R. Of course, the 7 reuse ideas are not exhaustive. As you begin to expand your zero waste lifestyle, you can activate them and discover some of your own unique reuse ideas. 6. Reuse Fast Fashion Items: As a zero waster, you'll be looking to rid your home of single use and disposable items, including clothing. All over the world, fast fashion is quickly filling up landfills and contaminating our oceans and waterways. Sustainable fashion is possible. Going forward, you can implement zero waste principles in the correct order so that your clothing choices are part of your zero waste lifestyle. For example, refuse. Start by choosing to buy less clothing. Reduce, use your existing clothes for a longer period of time. And finally, reuse. Start to shop for pre-owned or high-quality clothing that can last a long time and that you can reuse many times. Practice seeing durability as an attractive feature for the clothes you buy. Put the reuse R to work by having your fashion items refashioned to create new items, or by adopting a vintage look by reusing pre-existing handbags, accessories, and garments. This is a great plan for the future. But what can you do now in the present with all that tired, fast fashion that you already have? The class project in this course will help you learn how to reuse knit clothing by upcycling them into t-shirt yarn. 7. Class Project Make T-shirt Yarn: You are going to want to post to the project gallery. The first thing you should do is take a photo of your piece of clothing. Follow the instructions in this video and make some t-shirt yarn. Then take a post upcycling video showing the resulting t-shirt yarn. You are welcome to be in the photos too, if you want. This top has become stretched and out of shape. I'm going to show you how to turn it into t-shirt yarn so that it's material can continue to be serviceable. To start, cut off the top of the t-shirt at the armpit hole and cut off the bottom hem. You end up with three pieces like this. You may be able to find a use for them. For example, I like to use these as ties. Here's a sleeping bag. The ties are soft, comfy, they're pretty strong, and super easy to use. They can help you keep your linens and things organized. Back to making t-shirt yarn. This t-shirt was completely stretched so my seams don't line up. Normally, you'll have a seam here. And a seam here,... the important thing is that you make an edge. Fold to within one inch on the other side. Now we're going to cut three-quarter inch strips. You are going to cut all the way up until you just clear the first layer of cloth (so that you do not cut through the fold on the second layer), That's how we're going to get a continuous strand of t-shirt yarn. You cut up and right through that first fold, but not past it. Pick up your yarn, shake it out. This flat part that you've not cut through needs to be put on the table. It's a bit hard to show. But work to get the flat part on the table. What we're going to do is cut through. Then, you can see if you follow the strip around, you get a piece of yarn that comes out here. So, basically now I can just go through and cut each of these diagonals. And, it will turn into a long strand. Once you've cut your strips, they are flat. You want to have your yarn turn into more of a round shape. What you do is you simply pull the yarn, and it wants to turn into a round shape. again, just pull the flat yarn, even over the seams, everything, just pull it straight out and it will curl in! So you can do this watching TV. You can do this on the bus. It's a very relaxing, nice activity. You just pull and it turns from the flat strip into this curled yarn. What I like to do is wrap it in a ball so that by the time I'm at the end, I don't have a huge mess all over. So, I'm making a ball, as I pull the strips I wrap them onto the ball. Once you have a few balls ready, you're set to make some fun crafty projects. These projects are going to progress quickly because the yarn is bulky. You can make fashion projects such as a tote bag, a handbag, a yoga mat carrying bag. You can make head bands for fashion or warmth in the winter, or even a necklace. Or, you can make home décor items. You can make soft comfy floor rugs, a soft mat, bath mat. You can make a blanket to cover your legs. You can crochet, you can macramé a plant hanger, or a wall hanging. You can make trivets or coasters. You can knit with these. You can weave storage baskets. You can make a dog bed. You can have a lot of fun, and these are not going directly to landfill. You're reusing the material and you are a zero waster. Good job! 8. Conclusion Rethink Before You Buy or Consume: In conclusion about reuse. Rethink before you buy or consume something. When you need something Take the time to rethink about reusing before you go shopping or seeking a way to add something to your existing stuff. Look around at what your family already has. Can something be given a new life or be upcycled into a new item to fulfill your current need? If you absolutely need to purchase the new item, "Does a reusable version of the product exist?" By reducing what your family consumes and the amount of waste you throw out and recycle you are unlocking the amazing double power of the third R. Reuse is about rethinking so that you can see your items as resources. It is first about being efficient and using up the full value of your things. Reuse is secondly, about requiring you to plan for continued use of the resources as a reinvented item. This kind of thinking and rethinking is difficult at first. Don't worry, the reuse R does gradually get easier.