Environmentally friendly?

Sometimes it feels like all of the clothes in the world are in my bedroom. I have too much. I don’t go on shopping sprees every other day. My problem is with attachment.

I’ll give you a little insight into my life.


Most of this stuff only sees the outside world during the odd costume party, the rest: sewing scraps.

There are many ways to deal with the surplus:


clothing swaps

yard sales / consignment


But I’m taking baby steps. I’ll keep the clothes and try to make them useful through the ART OF DYEING.

I am an amateur. I’ve done tie-dyeing at summer camps (both of which I hated). But it stopped there. Luckily, dyeing clothes is the easiest thing you can do. Especially if you don’t really care about the results.


– Fill the bucket of boiling water with a packet of blue dye – I used Tintex. Add a bunch of salt. Use enough water to immerse the material.

– Let the dye dissolve. Stirring the solution with an implement you don’t want to use ever again.

– Look for undissolved clumps by transferring the solution to another container and then back again. I didn’t.

– Make sure the clothes are clean. This tip isn’t very helpful if you’re dyeing scummy white t-shirts on the slim chance that they will be wearable once again.

– Let it all soak while turning the material in the mixture. I let it soak for at least 4 hours.

– Wash in cold water and mild soap. Soak it for awhile and rinse until the water runs (mostly) clear.


Maybe my friends will stop laughing at me.
At one time this was dirty raw canvas. Now I can use it without shame. Probably.
The aforementioned scummy t-shirt.

I haven’t worn any of it yet. I will let you know if it works in practice.

Now that I’ve told you what to do, I will link to this (much more methodical) article on the art of dyeing.

13 thoughts on “Environmentally friendly?

  1. So fun! After only using a tie-dye methods, I took a chance and dyed a white dress gray for a formal event a few years ago and it turned out so well! It’s such a great way to refresh clothes. Have you ever used the washing machine technique? I did once on a visit home…my mother was not happy, to say the least.

  2. The only time I’ve actually dyed clothes, I had so much fun. And you’re right, it’s such a good way to give an old piece of grub a new, fresh look. I’ve also got a tendency to wanna buy all sortsa white undergarments, and I’ve had some good success tye-dyeing a few bras and pantaloons to spice them up a bit.

  3. Dyeing things is the most fun. I wish I wore light coloured clothing I could actually dye. Although your idea to dye your Sappy bag is a good one. Mine’s looking a little worse for wear, and I don’t know how much longer I can carry it while pretending to be an adult with a real job.

  4. Good idea, Jan. I could save some pantaloons in the process.

    That bag had accumulated the dirt of 3 years. It doesn’t change how many holes there are in the bottom. That’s something entirely different.

    I can pretend to be an adult some day.

  5. Maybe being an adult doesn’t have to mean having new stuff all the time. Maybe this is just a terrible misconception that our society has been operating under due to capitalist ideals of productivity, profit and progress. Maybe being an adult means treating the stuff we do have with care, and using it until we can’t use it any longer. Like, for instance, your lovely bag. It’s got a new lease on life, all because you cared enough to dye it. I won’t pretend that I don’t love buying new stuff, but reusing or renewing old stuff has gotta be one of the smartest (and coolest) things you can do!

  6. Jin, I totally agree with everything you said. When I say I have self-and-society-imposed expectations about how adults dress, I mean that normally grown women don’t carry bags with strawberry stains on them to work.

  7. Yeah, I think it sucks that it’s not considered “adult” or “grown up” or “professional” to wear/use stuff only until it starts looking like it’s been used. And you’re right, it’s not common to see somebody in a highfalutin office job wearing stained shirts and ripped jeans (and I don’t mean the kind you buy pre-ripped, OMG). Depending on your workplace, it might not really be accepted for people to wear older/used clothing.

    Maybe it’ll be my mini-rebellion this summer to start wearing older and more used-looking clothes to work! I’ve already gotten the green light for jeans (WIN)!

  8. I was really hoping this post was going to be about how to ethically/environmentally sensitively dispose of the clothes clutter. I have a friend who is my size who loves to shop, and she gives me bags and bags of ultra cool clothes. But now my closet is filling up! I’ve seen some really cool social entrepreneurship programs where women donate their business clothes to other women who can’t afford a new outfit for job interviews etc. But a $10 t-shirt from Old Navy doesn’t really have the same value as a re-gifted item. Maybe rag rugs are the answer… those things are cool. Anyone ever made one? They remind me of my (and Jan’s) Nanny’s house. Rag rugs and ham, by golly what a glorious place!

    • Rag rugs! I’ve made a couple this summer. I still haven’t perfected the art, but was lead to this link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGr-LiPboEY – and the rest of hers) by a friend on how to make them. I found it very helpful. Except, I do not have the right tool, I make do with a bobby pin, safety pin, tweezers or anything else that can serve the purpose 🙂

      • We were! It was inspired by a demonstration at the Tatamagouche Farmer’s Market and our aunt Millie’s immeasurable talents. But I had the same problem finding tools. Instead of being resourceful I just gave up. Maybe I can try your method.

  9. I don’t think being an adult is about having “new stuff,” but more stuff that’s a bit better quality than that of a free canvas bag (and I’m the first person to jump on a free bag, trust me). Also, adults have more responsibilities and therefore have more requirements of a product. When I got my first non-academic job, I invested in a work bag that has a space for my lunch *and* my work papers, pens, laptop, etc. Although I do miss the days of only having to carry a paperback, a notepad, and my meal card.

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