Why am I doing this?

Let me tell you a little about the Green Bag Lady project. . .

I started this art project in Jan/Feb of 2008. I am an artist/college professor but I mainly do photography and digital imaging (which is what I teach). This project could be classified as more of a "performance art piece." I do events where I go into public spaces, set up my sewing machine and give out bags as well as give them out on a daily basis. With Green Bag Lady, I would like more artists to think about the ecological impact of their art as well as producing work that has a direct, positive impact on the environment. I love that the audience is directly involved in this project.

The project started one day when I was scolding my husband for getting plastic bags at the grocery and he said he had to because there were no fabric bags in the other car (we normally only use one car) so I decided to go through my fabric bins (many of them!) and dig out fabric that had no other use. I ended up with quite a pile and I just started making bags. They were not very uniform in size when I started, but eventually I figured out what size worked best and that is the size of the pattern I now give out as a pdf. I started by bringing the bags to the college kids in my classes and then my friends. It has just grown from there. It has now taken on a life of its own!

I am adamant that I am NOT selling the bags or getting any compensation for them. They are a gift. I want the receiver to feel obligated to use them, that is why I require the promise to use them instead of paper or plastic. If one were to buy them from me, they become a commodity and there is no obligation any longer because the person owns the bag. A gift is owned by both people. I know that usually one bag is not enough but if I GIVE you one, you might start thinking about your usage and buy other bags to supplement your collection (and maybe even start thinking about recycling, composting, consumption and consumerism).

My favorite comments are from people who say things like, "this is the push I need to go more green" or "I have been thinking about switching to fabric and this will help me do that!" or "I am going to start making them and give them to everyone I know" or "I am going to have my Girl Scout Troop make them."

I should also mention, I am the mother of 3. Two girls ages 9 & 6 and a little 3 year old guy we affectionately call "Squeak."

Go green, live green, stay green!

Thanks for all the emails and great response to this project. Teresa

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK, you've seen us...let's see you and that great family! :)

Enrique Santamaría Stenner said...

Hi Teresa!!!
I saw your interview at CNN en español, Congratulations your doing the right thing, Im a musician and graphic designer and I admire you job. Thanks for the inspiration.

Becky said...

Just saw a clip on CNN about
the fabulous thing you are doing!

Blessing to you for inspiring others!

dawnell said...

Mother Earth Teresa,

I love your story! It is so simply sweet and yet has had the strength to move mountains (of plastic and people). Wow! What a tremendous example and legacy you have set and created for your 3 daughters, your community and the environment~
You inspire me to not only "go green" more passionately and effectively (currently I am kind of like a vegetarian who eats meat on Tuesday's and Friday's haha!! ((I am kind of a pale shade of green)) but also to inspire my own daughters by sewing and giving away our own green bags! I knew I was packing those boxes of fabrics around from house to house for a really really good reason!!! (funny how you just cant part with them!)
Thank you again, Mother Earth Teresa!!!!

Anonymous said...

To you "anonymous" posters- unfortunately you are bitter and angry not truly at Teresa but for other reasons! You truly must realize that Teresa likely did NOT seek out CNN for the interview and therefore was not looking for a spotlight on specifically her. Her efforts were purely out of love for her family and the environment and she was acknowledged and featured because of it! What was hers and CNN's purpose of the story- to INSPIRE. One person such as yourself or myself could make a difference. The story was effective as it has inspired me as well numerous others across the globe~ As well, CNN did NOT inform Teresa that they were running the interview multiple times which inspired thousands of requests I am sure. Now- just to make you happy, I am sure she could take each request that came in and perhaps give you a vague time of receiving -like, oh, I don't know, sometime in 2012!
I mean, come on, stop spewing hateful messages to someone who doesn't deserve it. Spend the energy that YOU have and do something positive for this earth that ALLOWS you to breath in it each day- while you can!
AND might I add, she did include a pattern for you or someone you know to sew your own bags (which are very simple- surely you could find someone to craft one for you...if you ask NICELY! as it sounds as if you could benefit from one) And if you are one of those people that are only looking for free hand-outs, well, good luck to you.
Teresa- Ignore them!

Kim said...

Thanks for sharing your patterns! I have been wanting to make my own grocery sacks for a while - I hate plastic bags. I have always used brown paper sacks because I used them for many things = but these are going to be so much better!!! I also teach preschool and am sure we will find 100 or more uses for these!

AjitaMaría said...

Hola!! soy Argentina, vivo en Buenos Aires, vi tu nota en CNN y realmente comparto tu compromiso y solidaridad. Tengo un emprendimiento que se llama AjitaMaría. Transmites una rica experiencia y me encantaría compartir tu propuesta en mi accionar. Si quieres puedes ver mi Blog para conocer donde unimos el Arte, Cultura y Diseño. Es http://ajitamariacrea.blogospot.com.Me encantaría conectarme con vos, pienso estos estímulos incentivan la Creación, el cuidado de las Personas y la preservación del Medio Ambiente.
SUERTE!!! Cariños. Patricia Estrada

Ciarra H said...

HIIIIII TERESA.
My name is Ciarra Holt and I am doing a senior project on the effects of global warming on the environment. This project also includes ways we can reduce the inevitable affects of global warming. If there is anyway possible I can get a bag, please keep in contact. I am not good at winning things, so I thought I could message you directly.

Ciarra Holt

Linda said...

Hi Teresa,
I think what you are doing is great. Watching the numbers fly on how many plastic bags are used was shocking.
I am a Textile Designer,into fine arts/fiber arts and have been weaving for over 30 years.
Twenty five years ago I would sew many hand woven bags and at that time, my partner gave me the name bag lady, how ironic.
Linda

MissesStitches said...

Teresa, I can't wait to meet you, and to see you in Gualala CA at our Paper n(Or)Plastic art show opening. What a treat!!!

Megan said...

I Just found your website about 20 minutes ago. This is amazing. I have been looking for reuseable bags. They only kind we have are georgia football. No thanks. So normally when I go to the store, I have them just load it up back in my cart. They look at me like i'm crazy. Is there any chance I could get one of these? Please email me @ meganellis01@yahoo.com. I would love it very much. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

i like your story!!!!!!!!!!!even no i am a guy

Anonymous said...

Are you accepting fabric donations?
Thanks for all you are doing!
Sharry

Teresa VH-Granath said...

Sharry--

Yes, we are taking fabric donations. Please send my father an email at:

bagettedad(at)gmail(dot)com

Thanks so much! We can use it!

Teresa

MPenha said...

Hi,my name is Maria da Penha,and I'm a brazilian woman.My country have a most beatiful green area,but we have a lot of problems about plastic residual(sorry,my english is very poor)and in my city,Rio de Janeiro,the people now ,are making your natural bags to minimize the problem.
I love the amy buttler bags patterns and I think that when we are going to buy something with the natural bags,we make all the people think the same.Sorry,if you don't understand me.I'm try...
Kisses and congratulations!

Erin said...

Hi, What a wonderful thing you are doing! I was especially touched by your donation to the cow caretakers. I've been using reusable bags for a few years now, but only in the last few months have I been making my own. Thank you for helping to make the world greener!

Misty Albany, Oregon said...

Yippy. I was a winner on your latest contest. I bought some cloth bags a few years ago and once I got them home they stayed there. I have to tell you that your project really gave me the confidence to not only continue to teach myself to sew but to make things for gifts. I have made a few bags different sizes using your pattern and instructions. I am very excited to make more and give them away for gifts. I was lead to your blog by YouTube and have been checking in most days to see what's new. Thanks for the inspiration and dedication.

Kelly said...

We have literally "Gone Green" at my house.... http://stitchingwithmygirls.blogspot.com/2010/01/forget-john-deere.html and some of the inspiration came from you! Here are my reasons for painting the room this color :-) http://stitchingwithmygirls.blogspot.com/2010/01/still-painting.html

laura said...

very simply....
hooray for you
I'm going to
make them too...

apronstringsandothertiesthatbind said...

Great project. People may as well heed your message...the day of the free plastic bag is coming to an end soon and very soon.

Your efforts are obviously being well rewarded.

oxo Judy

Anonymous said...

Heard about you from Ronsgal. Great work! Go GREEN!!

Lilian said...

Beautiful!
Now I got what you want to do! :)
I have green bags around the house but I never made any of them. I'll star now, for sure!
Thanks for sharing you story with us. It's quite a push!

honeylyn said...

Very nice and inspiring and a very good example to others..

Anonymous said...

Hi!
My friend told me about your blog. And after I read it, I was intrigued with your project. I do not have a bag like that, and now I have become motivated to make one. Thank you for the inspiration. I became motivated to go green. Good luck! :)

agatha.wijaya(at)ymail(dot)com