Green seam

Irving's Green Seam Project

In 2009, the city’s Environmental Stewardship Office went in search of an alternative to plastic “special event” bags usually distributed during special city held events. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. Of those, approximately 100 billion are plastic shopping bags, which cost retailers about $4 billion annually.

Click here to view video.

When researching an alternative style of bag for special event bags made from plastic, staff discovered an opportunity to produce bags using local skilled seamstresses and a ready supply of fabric generally destined for the landfill. Thus was born Irving’s Green Seam Project.

The Green Seam Project takes fabric either donated by residents and quilters who generally have stored materials from previous sewing projects, by local commercial outlets (usually outdated bolts of material), and t-shirts donated by screen printing shops and individuals and create unique, colorful and totally reusable shopping bags. Materials used to make the Green Seam bags are generally considered destined for the landfill and being used for a new purpose or “repurposed”.

Although there is an established bag style that each seamstress follows, each bag generally has its own unique design. For instance, periodically, a bag might be made using a man’s necktie as the handle; or a seamstress might add a little fringe to a bag.  Once finished, each bag is tagged with information regarding the project and benefits of using a reusable when shopping.

Here are some more facts about the benefits of using a reusable shopping bag:

  • According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. uses 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually.  An estimated 1 million barrels of oil is required to make that many plastic bags.
  • Plastic bags of not biodegradable.  They can exist on our planet for 1,000 years.
  • Using one cloth reusable bag can save up to six plastic bags a week … or 24 bags a month … 288 bags a year … or 22,176 bags in a lifetime!
  • The Wall Street Journal notes that four to five reusable bags can replace 520 plastic bags a year.
making bags bags making bags


Q & A:

How can I get a Green Seam bag? Irving’s Green Seam bags are given away at no charge during special city-wide events and during classes, events and workshops coordinated as part of the Be Green outreaching efforts. To learn more about Be Green educational opportunities click here.

Is there a charge for a Green Seam bag? No, the bags are free, however you may be asked to complete a survey or questionnaire regarding environmental sustainability.

Can my school get involved? Yes, secondary schools are a great source for prepping the fabric for the seamstresses, such as cutting the bag forms from templates. All schools are a great source for donating materials to make the bags.

How can my company or organization get involved? The seamstresses are paid a nominal fee to create each bag. This fee pays for their time, thread, and machine use. Monetary donations to this project are tax deductible as a charitable donation for Federal Income Tax purposes under 26 U.S.C. Section 170(c) and can be made to the City of Irving. For more information, contact Fran Witte at (972) 742-2296.

Thank you to the many individuals and organizations that have been involved in the Green Seam Project – Melissa Robles, Susan Grewing, Norma Blackstone, Karen Harmon, Kim Witt, Anita Walters, Cutting Corners, Fabric Factory, Markham Upholstery, Acugraphics Embroidery & More, individuals from Heritage Senior Center and students from MacArthur and Nimitz High Schools.

For more information about Irving’s Green Seam Project, contact Fran Witte, senior community outreach coordinator at (972) 742-2296 or fwitte@cityofirving.org.