Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Do Your Research Before Up Cycling With Unconventional Materials

It's great to up-cycle materials, right?  It keeps old stuff out of the waste stream by converting it into something that is useful again when it's original function is no longer wanted or feasible.  Old torn t-shirts? Cut them up into a string of t-shirt yarn and crochet with it!  The torn areas can even be worked into the new rug or handbag you make out of it without much fuss.  Use the coffee cup that the handle has broken off of to hold your crochet hooks, or use it as a candle holder or planter.  Maybe send it to my mosaic tiling friend who will break it up and make beautiful things from the pieces.  Dad's old necktie collection?  Sew them together into a pillow cover or a handy wallet and enjoy the memories they bring to mind.

However, it is important to do a little research about more unconventional materials you think might be useful as up-cycling ingredients.  Lately, I have been feeling restless (a combination of cabin and spring fevers, I guess), and I have been thinking about reusing or removing some of the clutter I have accumulated in life so far.  Gazing upon the wall full of old cassette music tapes I own, I thought, "I wonder if I could crochet something with all that tape?!"  I've seen people crochet bags and such from videotape.  I'm so glad I started to dig into how others have done it before I just started trying!

Turns out, there are a lot of toxic things that typically flake off of that magnetic tape when it is freed from its cassette casing that can endanger you as you manipulate it, and can pollute your immediate environment as well as the world in general.  Exposing the tape to air while you work with it, and/or when the finished product is used, causes the tape to shed chemicals.  Some of the substances in the 'black dust' that can hang in the air or settle on and around you while you work include magnetite, a.k.a. iron oxide , cobalt (poison), and chromium dioxide (lung irritant when inhaled).  Trace amounts and limited exposure to these substances don't usually present a health problem, but long-term use does not appear to be a good thing.  Especially if you are crocheting with it in your home, with pets and children running around, without a face mask.  And since nothing really goes 'away', I can't believe that unleashing these chemicals, even in trace amounts, into the wastewater when I wash my hands, or into the air, is a good thing, either.

So I will be looking into how to safely dispose of my tape collection at our solid waste authority, and move on to the next potential upcycling opportunity.  Hmmm.  I wonder if I can turn those hardcover books into shelves, like I've seen on Pinterest...

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