Rag rugs

The Internet is full of fantastic ideas for upcycling generally (turning waste into something useful), and rag-rugs specifically. Old T-shirts too stained to pass on as second-hand clothing, still find a use. Stretchy fabric works best. Ideally the fabric should not fray.

Rags to strips

Start by cutting off any seams. Then cut the fabric into strips, in a zig-zag pattern to make one long continuous ribbon. You don’t need to cut straight either, curves is fine.

On fabrics that stretch in one direction only, it is better cutting in the direction of the stretch rather than across it.

The strips can be from 1 to 3cm wide. The thinner the fabric, the wider the strips.

The thicker the yarn, the thicker the final carpet will turn out.

Find a route that has the smallest off-cuts, for instance:


To save time, fold the fabric in half. Cut from the fold to within 1cm of the edge. Open up the fabric, and snip through to the edge, on alternating rows, to create a continuous strip, like this:

A lovely selection of matching colours.

Strips to yarn

To connect individual strips quickly and easily, loop them through each other. Cut slots into the ends; first push the end of strip A through the slot in B, then pull strip B through the slot in A:

Once I got a huge bag of off-cuts from a T-shirt factory. It took ages to untangle all that cotton Lycra – much longer than it took to crochet the rugs afterwards.

Yarn to rug

If you don’t know how to crochet, check out Sarah‘s blog for example. The simplest crochet pattern starts with a chain, and then works back and forth until the rug is long enough.

The last time I crocheted anything was at age 5.

Here is an alternative pattern for a rectangular rug. Hopefully the instructions make sense. (I am a complete novice and cannot read or write a proper crochet recipe.)

First, mark out on the floor how big you want the rug to be. Mark out two right-angled triangles on each end. Measure how long the starting chain needs to be. Calculate 2cm per stitch.

On this rug the starting chain was 50cm long, about 25 stitches.

Use a 10mm thick crocheting hook.

  • Create a chain (Step 4 on Sarah’s blog)
  • ‘Work into the chain’ (Step 5)
  • As you get back to the beginning, put three stitches in the end loop of the chain (figure A below).
  • Crochet along the chain and do the same on the other end (A).
  • On the next round, add an extra stitch on each of the four corners (B).
  • On the following round, and each round thereafter, add two stitches in each corner (C).
  • With each round, there are two extra stitches on each side of the rectangle (D).
  • When the rug is big enough, or you run out of yarn, fasten off (Step 9).

I love my colourful rug!

Solar home

As I write, our neighbourhood is wrapped in darkness. At Stage 6 national load shedding, electricity cuts out several times a day. But we hardly notice. We enjoy the benefits of energy that shines down from the sky, for free, every day.

In August we installed a solar power system. After fretting for a while over the cost, we saved up and just did it, knowing that this investment will pay itself back in a few years. After that, electricity will be free.

Installed and pumping electricity!

Best of all, we reduced our family’s carbon footprint, making a major contribution from our side towards solving the climate change crisis.

The best location for solar panels was the garage roof, as it is the most nearly North-facing, with the least shade.

The solar panels convert sunlight into electricity. This power is variable, and it comes in as DC (direct current) while the home uses AC (alternating current). So the current has to go through an inverter.

The inverter receives electricity (from the panels, from the grid or from a battery), converts it as required, and sends it as required to the home or the battery or exports it to the grid. Beware: the inverter is noisy.

Batteries supply power at night. Without them electricity would only be available during daylight hours. They act as a storage tank, ensuring a steady supply while power production peaks and dips. The inverter also needs a battery to start up during power outages (it is a computer after all). This took me a while to understand. Without electricity from the grid or from a battery, the inverter cannot power up in the morning, and the solar panels are useless.

The Watt ratings on the panels indicate the maximum power produced per square meter. I don’t know if one ever reaches that maximum, but today at lunch time (a blazing sunny spring day) our panels produced 85% of their total rating.

An online app records and makes pretty graphs of everything – the energy being harvested from the sun, our electricity usage, how much we import and export from and to the grid, even an estimate of total savings – in Rands (our monthly electricity bill) and in carbon dioxide (1.8 tons in under 3 months, or more than half a ton of coal). Wow!

Electricity production (green area) depends on the weather, the length of the day, and other factors.

At this time of year the weather is extremely variable, swinging from blazing hot sunny days to grey fog and drizzle, and back. Despite this, our solar system has supplied our needs, on average. On some days we import from the grid, on others we export. Even on the darkest days with heavy cloud cover, the panels produce at least enough electricity to keep the fridge and freezer going 24/7 (with two batteries). But this is good to know.

Back to question of money: these past few years the cost of solar power has come DOWN, to the point where it is now getting cheaper than electricity from fossil fuels (like coal power stations). At current electricity prices our system (which we paid for cash) would take about 10-11 years to pay off.

But electricity prices in South Africa have gone UP, faster than inflation (15% annual increase on average since 2008, which is 3x faster than inflation). If this trend continues (very likely) we will get our money back in about 7 years, after that, profit. So this is an investment that makes business sense. No wonder more and more businesses are installing solar power. In theory one can start small and add more over time.

I just discovered that 13 October was International Day for Disaster Reduction. On 11 October 50% of Durban city was without power after an explosion at a major substation. Half a large city! The Durban flooding disaster damaged electricity infrastructure and caused major power outages. Sometimes we lose power for several days due to local faults. And have I mentioned the load shedding?

In every way solar power makes sense. It makes sense for today, it makes sense for the future, it makes sense financially, it makes sense for disaster readiness and for peace of mind.

by Marlies Craig

Climate Action Programme

On Youth Day (24 June 2022) the South African Youth Climate Change Coalition (SAYCCC) ran a workshop in Durban to strategize how to ramp up climate change action and activism, now that Covid-19 restrictions have been relaxed.

It was a timely opportunity for EASTERaction to hand out copies of What I Can Do About Climate Change booklet, and to present our plans for a brand new Action Programme to go with it, which we hope to roll out over the next year.

Participants included representatives from SAYCCC-affiliated climate action groups such as Durban South Peacebuilders, Durban Youth Climate Council, eThekwini municipality, Green Anglicans, Ray Nkonyeni Municipality, uShaka Marine World Education, Vascowiz, and our lovely local beauty pageant, Miss Petite Globe SA, Zoe Nyandeni, who wants to help spread the word on climate change and sustainable living. Go Zoe!!

The booklet was originally written to inform eThekwini municipal councilors about personal climate action. One day before our workshop, the booklet was distributed at a climate induction workshop run by the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department.

Thank you SAYCCC for this opportunity and for your enthusiasm! We very much look forward collaborating on ‘the biggest challenge facing humankind ever’.