After my last post - 15 Reusable Shopping Bag Tutorials - I got to thinking about how sewing contributes to the plastic problem, and wondered if there are any answers.
About a month ago, I had a bee in my bonnet about how Birch cotton tape was packaged and priced in Spotlight stores (equivalent of Jo-Ann stores). Birch is a well known Australian brand, so I'm sure the tape is sold the same elsewhere, too.
I needed a lot of cotton tape for the one hundred drawstring bags I'm in the process of making. Progress is slow - I've only made seventeen bags.
It turned out there were two ways I could buy the tape...
- Off the roll - as much or as little as I needed
- Prepackaged in 5m packages.
Option 1 is obviously the way to go. Purchase 20m and throw it into my reusable shopping bag - no plastic whatsoever.
Option 2, meant unnecessary plastic and cardboard for every 5m.
So, why, oh why was it considerably cheaper to purchase the prepackaged tape? The packaging alone should have increased the price.
Apart from price, I can't for the life of me think of a good reason to buy the prepackaged tape. I suppose it saves a minute or two at the checkout. Is that a valid reason? I don't think so.
The poor shop assistant had to listen to me rant and rave (nicely) about how wrong it was...
- to have the prepackaged tape in the first place
- to price the prepackaged tape more cheaply than off the roll.
She agreed with me and said I wasn't the first to complain.
Feeling as strongly as I do about unnecessary plastic packaging, you'd think I would have refused, and purchased 20m off the roll. But no, I came home with four packets of tape - complete with all the extra plastic and cardboard - and intending to contact both Birch and Spotlight for their reasoning.
Why did I purchase the least environmentally friendly choice? The price!!! The difference was enough that I purchased the cheapest option. I can't remember the prices now, but from memory, I could get an extra 5m prepackaged for the same cost as off the roll.
When I arrived home, however, I felt guilty as!!! I should have put my money where my mouth is.
And I should have gone ahead and contacted the stores when I could still remember the prices.
So, what are my options in the future? I'll definitely shop around.
My local haberdashery store will give me a significant discount when I purchase whole rolls of elastic. I'm sure they'd do the same if they stock the tape I want. It doesn't have to be the same brand, although I do like to support Australian businesses. Made in Australia would be even better, but that's another topic.
If I can't find the tape off the roll at the price I want, I'll just have to bite the bullet and pay extra. If nobody purchases the prepackaged tape, stores won't stock it. We do have buying power, but only in numbers. I'm obviously not the only one buying unnecessary plastic.
I consoled myself with the fact that I recycle all soft plastic. We collect every single little piece of soft plastic that comes into our house and take them to redcycle bins. Of course, it would be much better to not bring the plastic home in the first place.
What experiences have you had buying sewing notions sold in your little corner of the world?