One of my goals for many years has been to be a low waste (I would love zero but I don’t think it’s possible for my sewing business right now) home business. I forgot to add that to my goals list (on there now) but I think it is important with all the fabric waste that is happening now. Bonus wasting less saves money in the long run; I have been reusing boxes, shipping products, and other stuff for years now. I would really like to expand on this with my fabric and notion use. I did make an upcycled teddy bear last year from one of my daughters favorite dresses, he was super cute too. Many times fabric still has a lot of life in it and instead of throwing it away of donating to another company to make a profit on it (yes many of those donation boxes make millions of free clothes) I would like to use it. I read a stat earlier that said those companies also trash a good percentage of those clothes donated, so they end up in the landfill anyways.
There are 2 Affiliated links in this post, I will make a small percentage from each purchase.
There are several ways to make sure I waste less:
1. Use as much fabric as I can, which for the most the part I already do. I use most of my tiny pieces of my doll hair and small pieces of patterns. I even take my mom’s scraps to get the most out of them too, see here. I would love to use everyone’s scraps but I don’t have the money to buy them all up, lol. It is time consuming to use them all up but saving it from the landfill is worth it.
I really need to find something to do the tiny scraps I have left the can’t be used. I had some for the birds but they didn’t want them and I have read mixed reviews about the birds using them. What are your thoughts? Once the snow melt I will see if they composted in the garden or not, they fell out the holder I had them in.
This year I will be sell a low waste rag doll, which will be made of all scraps peices. This doll will probably not matching but I can’t wait to see the results. The only reason is will be a low waste doll is because I will be using new stuffing, I can’t bring my self to reuse stuffing for a product I will sell. If you have an idea about that let let know.
2. Reusing fabric that is still in good shape for upcycled dolls and stuffed animals. As I said before I make one last year and hope to make more this year. I have 2 boxes of stuff to use up, this leads me to the down side of less waste – storage. Saving stuff does require a bit of storage and places to put it.
3. I also need to buy less fabric so I have less to waste, sound easy right? nope. I love fabric shopping, I really wish the thrift shops here had better quality stuff to upcycle. I have been looking around for stuff to reuse but many times this stuff is to tatter it’s not worth it. But this year I will be really limiting my fabric shopping to once a month or less.
4. Clean out fabric that can not be used, I do have some fabric that ca not be sewn because it is such poor quality. Those piece usually go to my daughter to practice on. The second part of this one is to buy better quality fabric, which I do already for the most part. I have found that the better quality fabric upcycles much better than cheaper fabric. Lots of the poor quality fabric is super old before I started sewing for a living and understood fabric quality.
5. Ship smart and use only recycled boxes and packaging materials. This is something I already do but many people don’t and here is what I do. I reuse all the boxes that my items come in from like amazon, also if I am out of boxes I will go to BJS to get more in their recycling bin. I also reuse plastic wrap (even the plastic wrap from my couch) and plastic padding, this saves a lot of money too. You can also ship in almost any kind of box (not alcohol) with the barcodes marked out through the USPS. I also try and ship as much as I can in envelopes that can be recycled. Try some of these for your home business, as we know boxes can be expensive. I also use Christmas wrapping paper instead of peanuts.
6. Reuse all extra pieces of paper in the printer, I only started doing this because my new printer is easier to reload. I always have extra pattern pieces that I don’t use, so reuse the other side better than recycling. I also print a lot of coupons so saving paper saves money right?
7. All my price tags will be recycling paper cards and card stock. I got a puncher for tags and can’t wait to make some new tags from old cards I have around the home that were too pretty to recycle. Also have a collection of cards stock from scrap booking that I will use up, so I won’t need to buy any tags for a long time. I also got a rubber stamp for Christmas to use with the tags, it says “made with love”. Now I need some good ink for the stamp, what do you use??
8. Resale all broken electronic (or e-waste as it is called now), yes I sell about 90% of all my broken stuff on EBAY. I love that whom ever buys them will reuse and remake them even after their broken. Not only that but you can make a little bit of money too, I have sold a few broken laptops for over $100 each.
9. Of course recycling as much as possible, I try to recycle even bit of paper, cardboard, and plastic (but we pay for per trash bag so recycling saves a lot of money). I know many people don’t know what is recyclable or not, I just put it on the recycling bin if they take its all good, if not I will trash it (in many years I have only had one thing not taken). I recently recycled 2 large trash bags of wrapping paper from Christmas, I didn’t think they would take it in the trash bags but they did. I had way too much gift wrap this year.
10. Use fabric or reusable shopping bags, I love these but for some reason I am always forget them at home. I always try to not take a bag if I don’t need one, but I am going to have to find a way to store a bag or 2 in my purse so I will never forget. I really need to expand this to my personal life too; there are so many ways to avoid plastic bag use.
11. Save electricity, unplugging items not in use. I really struggle with this but I am going to work hard to unplug and shut my computer down when not using it. I tend to forget to shut my computer off, it sleeps but still using power. My printer shuts down on it’s own but that is the only thing that shut off. My iron shuts off but the lights still blinking so it’s on, I have been unplugging to move it (but that is so the kids don’t knock it over). My sewing machine and my computer are the 2 biggest things I leave on right now. I am pretty good about shutting lights off because I hate high bills. Step by step to a better planet.
12. I am going to find a way to include recycling suggestions for the packages I ship. I use all recycled materials to ship already but I worry about what happens to that stuff once the customer gets it. So I want to write a note with ways to recycle everything in the box, including the box. I do have to ship all my doll in a plastic bags to avoid damage to them but this bag can be reused as a trash bag (I am sure many people don’t realize that), also the tag can be recycled and the twine can go in the garden. I think writing a small little note on the box it self would be great and not make more waste. What are your thoughts?
I am working on a Pinterest Board with stats and ways to lessen Waste for Home businesses.
3 thoughts on “Becoming a Low Waste Home Business”
What great suggestions! I don’t run a business based around fabric but you’re right that much does get tossed or sent to other countries (via donation) and also trashed. Thanks for doing this and being environmentally responsible.
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