Get Sewing and Save Some Trees

We use a lot of paper in our day to day, but it doesn’t have to be that way!

[Creative Commons photo by Eunice]

Americans go through 700 pounds of paper products per person on average every single year. That’s a lot of trees! On top of things like paper towels and tissues, billions of menstrual products end up in the bin. In 1988, a field study found that 6.5 billion tampons and 13.5 billion sanitary pads and their packaging end up in America’s waste stream annually. You’ve got a weapon to fight all this waste right in your craft room: your sewing machine or even a simple needle and thread! Here are a few ways you can stitch your way to less waste.

Whether you make just one or two of these changes or decide to tackle them all, good on you for working to reduce your contribution to the landfill!

How else can we sew our way to less waste?

Written by Becky Striepe

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .


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  1. As much as I would love to be on board with the cloth menstrual pads, I just can’t – it thoroughly grosses me out. My ‘green’ alternative is the Diva Cup. I find that it works just as well as a tampon with no waste.

    As far as sewing to have less waste, I’ve taken to refashioning clothes that don’t fit (like jeans that are too short, into a jean skirt) or patching holes . . . etc etc. If you don’t have to buy something new and you keep what you already have, you get less waste!!

  2. I sew up fabric bags for both groceries and produce. (I’m in the process of redoing the tutorials on my site- will even include some videos to help make it crystal clear.)

    And I think the best thing about how sewing can reduce waste is how you can fix tears in clothing as well as reuse fabrics like thrift store sheets and divert it all from the landfill.

  3. Elizabeth – I’m so glad you mentioned menstrual cups! I wanted to work that in somehow and wasn’t able to. I am also a Diva Cup devotee!

    Great ideas for sewing to reduce waste…mending clothing is such a huge one.

  4. I like the cloth pads myself–tampons never worked for me, and I figure it can’t be any grosser than cloth diapers, right? (No kids myself, but I know a bunch of people who do and are getting into the cloth diaper thing.) I haven’t managed to convince myself to use handkerchiefs over tissues yet, but my family does use cloth napkins and cloth towels for most things–except for stuff like cooking bacon.

  5. We haven’t used paper napkins or paper towels in – gosh, 15 plus years. I just switched to cloth pads – so much comfyier. And a diaphragm makes a perfectly good menstrual cup, btw. (and your insurance might pay for it.)

  6. I also made super soft tissues out of cotton flannel. They are awesome! I had a cold last week, and when I went to my mom’s for a day and used the traditional tissues, my nose became really sore and dry. I had allergies as a child, and that happened often. I thought it was because of my nose. When I got home and used my super soft flannel tissues, I realized it was because of the tissues! My nose cleared right up! We made lots so we can use them just like tissues (instead of using one handkerchief over and over). We have a bag where they collect and just wash normally with our homemade detergent (ooh la la! ).
    This is a great post!

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