Creative Reuse Trends during Social Distancing due to the COVID-19 Pandemic
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People are generously making masks and hand sanitizer, teaching art with recycled materials and using up what they have in the kitchen. These are moments of creative reuse that fill me with gratitude and joy. Let’s take a moment to focus on people’ ingenuity and spirit!
Trend #1: Masks and Hand Sanitizer
People are digging into their fabric stashes. Designers are sharing patterns. People are substituting elastic with hair bands or strips of recycled t-shirt. This is a wonderful way for people to help people in the community even though we cannot leave our homes.
Hospitals are also investing in machines to clean masks and other personal protective equipment. Thousands of items that used to go into landfill can now be cleaned and used again – what a tremendous example of creative reuse that hopefully will continue after social distancing for a long-term reduction in medical waste!
Check out this story about how UF Health anesthesiology team started sewing masks from a fantastic material that was just getting tossed otherwise – the cover for the surgical tools.
Clothing factories are creatively reusing their systems and fabric to make masks and gowns, such as the company that makes uniforms for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Distilleries are switching gears and making hand sanitizer, often donating product and/or profits to health workers and essential staff in their communities. Shout out to Brain Brew Custom Whiskey which is owned by one of my mentors, Doug Hall. Here’s a list of distilleries making hand sanitizer.
- Craft Passion mask pattern – This is the pattern I used and it was great!
Trend #2: Art Classes at Home with Recycled Supplies
Art teachers are redesigning their lesson plans so that students can use objects found in most homes, even if they don’t have many art supplies. Many of these objects are items that normally go in the trash or recycling bin. The podcast Everyday Art Room has been covering many stories about how art teachers are adapting to distance learning. Cassie Stephens has been teaching an art class every week day online with recycled materials.
I know LOTS of people are making crafts from home with recycled materials because the Trashmagination podcast has been downloaded often, especially the most recent episode about creative reuse of toilet paper tubes.
Here’s my brother making art projects with my nephew at home:
Art museums around the world encouraged people to re-create famous artworks with materials they have at home. What a great way for people to engage with art even when they cannot visit museums in person!
Trend #3: Crafts that Use Up Materials
Many artists are modeling how to start new pieces or finish old ones with materials that you find at home – without going to the store or ordering line.
Arounna Khounnoraj from Bookhou shared a pillow that she punch-needled with many scraps of wool and recycled clothing.
Project bag made from fabric remnants – design by Arounna Khounnoraj
Deanne Fitzpatrick gives a powerful pep talk about finishing old pieces that you never finished.
Trend #4 – Home Cooking and Baking
There are many popular hashtags related to this trend such as #coronacooking, #quarantinecuisine, #pandemicpantry or #covidkitchen where people share meal ideas from items with a long shelf-life or from the freezer that many people might have at home.
Here are recipes my family enjoys to use up food that is expiring soon:
- Apple crisp
- Bread pudding
- Banana muffins
- Chicken vegetable soup
- Tapioca (to use up milk that is close to expiring)
Mama Pappa Bubba makes fruit sauce and freezes it in small jars to provide healthy snacks for her kids.