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Sustainable Shopping: Buffalo Gal Frills | Arts & Culture

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Sustainable Shopping: Buffalo Gal Frills
Sustainable Shopping: Buffalo Gal Frills

BUFFALO, N.Y.- Old t-shirts can become many different things: pillows, a quilt, dust rags...and, apparently, underwear. But Rachel Gottlieb prefers to make them into scarves and bracelets.

The “Gal” behind Buffalo Gal Frills, Gottlieb began creating scarves for family and friends after finding an online article on t-shirt necklaces. “I realized that by adding a bit more bulk to the design, they could make great scarves,” she said.

Gottlieb didn’t consider turning her creations into a business until someone on a flight from Los Angeles to Buffalo (Gottlieb is a Buffalo native and moved back from L.A. last year) asked about the scarf she was wearing. She started selling them online through Etsy, and, after Anatomy owner Ali Eagan found Gottlieb via a mutual friend’s Facebook page, they are now available in the store at 569 Elmwood Ave.

Gottlieb’s method requires that she use t-shirts for the scarves, but the recycling aspect is important to her as well. She said she purchases most shirts from Amvets and Goodwill “so I know the money is going back into the community.” Customers occasionally request colors and suggest buying brand new shirts, she said, but “to me, that would completely defeat the purpose. I can’t use the entire shirt for my scarves, so part of the shirt get thrown away. Using brand new shirts would just create extra waste.”The most time consuming part of creating the scarves is finding the t-shirts, Gottlieb said. Each scarf uses two shirts of the exact same size and identical or complimenting colors. “I’ve spent hours in Amvets walking around with a mountain of t-shirts in my cart, trying to find just the right ones,” she said.

Gottlieb won’t give too much of the process away, but “will tell you that there is a LOT of cutting and stretching involved,” she said. Each scarf takes about an hour to make. Now that she’s got the process down, she hopes to start incorporating tie-dying and braiding into the designs.

Gottlieb has also added bracelets to her repertoire. “I found myself with a few scraps of the t-shirt strips [and]...had some beads lying around,” she said. “I thought it might be fun to use the t-shirt cords as wrist wraps.”

Outside of her eco-friendly wares, Gottlieb says she’s “not the greenest person I know, but I do try to keep the environment in mind in my daily life.” She’s been a pescetarian for over three years, buys recycled products as often as possible and is conscious of using things that would produce extra waste. She also keeps a vegetable garden. “Homegrown food tastes so much better than store-bought, and I’m not wondering if my tomatoes were shipped from Chile or some other far-away place,” Gottlieb said.

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