With Earth Day a few weeks away, this environmental campaign from the UK may inspire you to start a green sewing project!
Pol Morsman was sick of seeing plastic bags floating in the canal near her home in England. She realized that if people chose reusable bags over plastic there would be fewer plastic bags ending up in marine areas and landfills, so she learned to sew and started the morsbags project to make this a reality. The idea is simple – sewing and distributing reusable bags free of charge to make it that much easier for people to avoid using plastic bags. To date there have been nearly 90,000 reusable Morsbags sewn (which means potentially 45,000,000+ plastics bags that have been avoided!!).
The morsbags project encourages participants to form small groups (known as ‘pods’) to churn out as many bags as possible. The groupwork helps with productivity as well as making the sewing and distribution a more fun, sociable endeavour. Groups come together with donated fabrics like curtains or bedsheets, and then distribute them for free in public spaces. I had to ask Pol if she was nervous the first time that she went to distribute the bags she’d made…
Pol: Yes, I’m still always a little nervous when I distribute bags for some reason, however many times I’ve done it, but it’s a good nervous, like a little pump of adrenalin as I never quite know who I’ll meet or what their reactions will be but I never need worry as the majority of people are so lovely and want to talk about why the bags have been made and why they’re free and express enthusiasm for the idea and for dusting down their sewing machines to join in. People can be a little sceptical at first wondering what the ‘catch’ of accepting a freebie might be, but the joy is in explaining that there is no catch, just that they should use the morsbag, and reuse it!
We have lots of advice in our forum about how to do handouts – but check that where you’re handing out is a public space, wear a smile and an armful of colourful bags and be ready to explain and you’ll be fine. Morsbaggers often but a small leaflet or tag onto the bags to explain the project. We have morsbags t-shirts too to make handouts seem more official, but even if people are shy, how about sending morsbags to friends and relatives or anonymously stick morsbags through all the letterboxes in the street!
You definitely don’t need to be an expert to make a morsbag — this project welcomes sewers of all ages and abilities. Morsbags.com has a wonderfully clear instruction sheet that will have you sewing reusable bags in no time… (I also recommend checking out their great instructional animation!)
While perusing the morsbags web site, I couldn’t help but notice a certain member of the Royal Family… could that really be Prince Charles at a sewing machine?
Pol: Yes!! Not only is it Prince Charles sewing up a morsbag, he’s sewing a Royal Morsbag! He very kindly donated his own curtains from Clarence House for use to make into very special morsbags!! :)
Since the participants in the morsbags project are all about mass production, you’d expect the bags do be as simple as possible. However, there are some fantastic designs in the morsbags Flickr pool by morsbaggers who like to keep things interesting:
For more information about this project or to sign up a group of your friends as a morsbags pod, visit their website. Whether you sew up a couple of bags for yourself or go guerilla with it, you can use your sewing machine to give a new life to some old fabric and reduce waste!