Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sew WHAT???

I can't bring myself to tell anyone in the Real World what I'm up to. Many would think the concept was gross, others would roll their eyes at my weirdness. Most would do both and slowly back away without disturbing the odd creature standing before them.

The last time I attempted anything with needle and thread was about three decades ago, in Brownies. I learned the running stitch and the backstitch. But 10 days ago I found myself in a dollar store picking up needle, thread, and velcro dots, and then in a fabric store in the garment district buying up 99-cent flannel. I got the most horrified looks when I asked for PUL, the waterproof material in reuseable diapers. I couldn't bring myself to tell them what I was making - they were used to dealing with Project Runway types I guess. And they were men. And I was picking up the supplies for...wait for it...

Reusable cloth sanitary pads.

I can't even remember how I found this particular project, but I'm among the many skeptics who question the motives of P&G's Protecting Futures campaign, where they donate a tiny percentage of their profits from Tampax and Always to provide hygiene products for poor schoolgirls in Africa. I'm sure you've seen the commercials. Well, how viable and responsible is it to send disposable products to a part of the world that doesn't have nice things like sanitation/garbage collection? And it could be the next Nestle baby formula scenario: get the girls hooked on expensive imports from the moment they need such things, and then make them pay when they outgrow the scope of the program. You know that's on the cards.

Hello, Goods4Girls! Apparently, a domestic eco-goddess blogger started a program to donate reusable cloth pads to a few partner organizations in Kenya and Sudan. It's pretty fledgling at this point - you can either make pads, buy pads to donate from a few links on the Goods4Girls website, or you can donate cash for the purchase of supplies and postage through PayPal. Anyone with as little as $3 can send a pad to an adolescent orphan in Africa. That's less than a grande calorificcino at Starbucks.

Goods 4 Girls
Now, I question the value of sending something that can be produced locally. I mean, I'd rather fund a microloan through Kiva to a seamstress in Nairobi to respond to this need. But I figured that freebies were just a starting point, and one day I might find that loan opportunity on Kiva if African women decide they prefer this solution to whatever they've been doing (I won't gross you out with the details). In the meantime, donating pads through the links on supports a cottage industry of work-from-home seamstresses right here in America. Now tell me how that's a bad thing.

I'm not a work-from-home seamstress, but I've had this urge over the past few years to learn how to sew. I have no domestic skills. Not one. I eat my own cooking, but I'd never subject another human being to it. I pay someone to clean my one-room studio twice a month. Oh wait - I can do laundry. Good thing too, considering how much is generated by my massage business. But I would like to be able to do things like hem a pair of pants and create specially-shaped covers for my massage equipment. I finally found a class but it's prohibitively expensive. My next step will be ordering a sewing machine, since my repertoire from age 7 is so limited. If I don't post new entries in my blog for a while, you'll know I've accidentally stitched my hand to a piece of scrap material.

Charitable Act of the Day: I dropped a pocketful of change into my favorite panhandler's cup. He thought the coins were all pennies and got annoyed, said he'd pass them on to someone who could use them. You mean there's some kind of caste system amongst the beggars?? Does that mean he's part of the "paper and large silver only" elite?

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