Sustainability Spotlight: Georgia Carney from SewGreen@Rochester

About This Series

Sustainability Spotlight is a blog series sponsored by Impact Earth that allows readers to discover the best zero waste practices in Rochester. We totally support our nominees that are living their best #zerowaste lives and hope that you do too! If you would like to nominate yourself or another local for our Sustainability Spotlight series, just let us know!

About SewGreen@Rochester


SewGreen@Rochester, Inc., is a 501c3 dedicated to rescuing  for reuse of everything to do with sewing, knitting, crochet, and needlework. The second half of our mission is to educate folks of all ages and walks of life in all varieties of creative and practical machine and hand needle arts. SewGreen teaches low cost classes and camps in our shop and has many free club opportunities for the community. We take programs out to schools, libraries, and festivals, and we are determined to revive these skills which as much as they are practical, are also good for our emotional lives.”

About SewGreen’s founder, Georgia


“I am a 30 plus year veteran of professional regional theatre and opera costume shops where I was a draper/ tailor for all periods of men’s and women’s costumes. I spent 28 years at Geva Theatre in Rochester. I left theatre in 2013 and was ordained as an Episcopal Deacon in 2014. My diaconal work involves both teaching sewing skills as personal empowerment alongside community gardening on the West side of Rochester. Community gardening is a great way to teach people of all ages the joy of growing your own food without chemicals and experiencing the wonder of harvesting and enjoying  truly fresh veggies.Most kids given access to dirt, seeds and water are natural gardeners!

My son Gabe works for Gleason and lives in Macedon with my twin almost 2 year old grandsons and my daughter Claire lives in Farmington and works for Victor Crossfit and Nolan’s in Canandaigua. I have been married to Mark Darling for 37 years and we garden and keep chickens and sheep in Farmington.”

Her Background with Sustainability

“Sustainability really dawned on me in 2011 and it had to do with zippers. I started a Mending Ministry at St. John’s Gleaners’ Kitchen, a free lunch program in Canandaigua, NY, during my summers off from theatre. I would set up a sewing machine in the dining room and fix clothes or help folks fix their clothes during lunch. I put many, many, zippers in jackets or repaired pulls and I came to think about the fate of jackets for anyone who doesn’t either have the skill or the $20 or more to pay someone else to fix their zipper, that these coats were headed for the landfill ---which is crazy in environmental terms! Alongside the joy of repairing is equally the joy of talking with people and learning their life story. Conversation goes well with a sewing machine whirring in the background.

The next step was to focus on teaching sewing skills through a Sewing Work Shop begun at St. Mark’s and St. John’s on Culver Rd.

The third step happened when I was connected to the original SewGreen in Ithaca in 2014 by a friend and built a relationship with Wendy Skinner, the mother of this great concept of making re-use beautiful. We were able to write for a major grant from the National Episcopal Church in 2015 and opened our Rochester shop in early December of 2015. SewGreen put together the 2 sides of mission- with the sustainability through keeping usable textiles and tools out of the landfill and teaching folks the skills to use rescued items or to repair or up-cycle clothing or accessories which they already own.”

Georgia’s Motivations to live Sustainably

“I am motivated toward sustainable living because I am now a grandmother and I care deeply about the world we will leave for future children. Here today-gone today fashion is a devastating force to the environment on a global scale. Being mindful of what we actually need to purchase and caring for what we own are soul-enriching practices that matter for now and for the future.”

Her Favorite Zero Waste Lifestyle Products

“My favorite zero waste products are the vintage workhorse sewing machines which I receive as donations to our shop and lovingly clean, oil, and either teach with or re-home in the community. I enjoy matching these machines with folks excited to begin or get restarted on a sewing journey. There is nothing in current manufacturing that can match the performance and durability of metal machines manufactured from the late 1800’s until the 1970’s.”


Georgia’s Favorite thing about living Sustainably

“What I like about living sustainably is that by beginning to think sustainably in one area in your life, such as sewing, this begins to color how you look at other areas like food sourcing and waste, automobile use, and sharing resources with other individuals or groups. I am always looking for ways to connect and where we can achieve a win-win experience.”

Her Favorite Green Space in Rochester

“My current favorite green space in Rochester is the beautiful park between King and Madison Streets with the Susan B. Anthony And Frederick Douglas statues. This park is an easy walk from the SewGreen@Rochester shop and gives peace and serenity to the neighborhood.”

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