Do you use Green and Recycled Materials in your Craft?

Being eco-conscious and crafty can be a challenge. Most of us have a love affair with paper, paint, glue and other single use products, some even highly toxic. I’m not preaching here. I adore paper. I’m actually guilty of purchasing vast quantities of art supplies that I have no specific plans for at all.  (For me, the medium dictates what it will become. ) I studied photography using  the wasteful, toxic products of film, chemicals and emulsion covered paper  but I’m coming around digital.  If I weren’t so sensitive to oils and turpentine, that would still be my choice of medium.  I’m struggling with this. I want to leave our world rich in resources for future generations.  I also have an obsession with real greeting cards and there are certain circumstances when an e-card seems inappropriate. I don’t mind reading the daily news online, and I might even eventually buy a Kindle but I am just not willing to give up the paper version of certain publications, like Somerset Press.

How do you reconcile the desire to be earth-friendly with a lust for the feel of parchment?  Particularly since we want to  support everyone in the craft industry, including the manufacturers and designers of supplies.  How can we create with recycled materials and still keep our friends, the suppliers, in business?

The good news is that more and more companies are using recycled materials in the production of papers and other craft supplies. Let’s make sure and support them. Also, we can combine some re-used and some new material in our crafts.

If you are like I am about dumping work you aren’t pleased with, you probably throw out lots of paper or other material. I know I sure used to waste a lot until I recognized that one of the best parts of working alongside fellow crafters is swapping materials. Why not include our “rejected” projects in the pool of supplies to trade. It’s likely that a piece you aren’t happy with could be just the color, texture or shape that a craft buddy needs. It’s fun to take apart  someone else’s art and re-use some parts or materials.

We need to educate our customers on why re-using, recycling and repurposing is so important, and  why it costs so much more to go green. Many eco responsible products like building materials cost the consumer more than conventional,  but the good news is that using earth friendly materials in your craft can actually save you money.

What are YOU doing to make your crafts more earth-friendly? Do you struggle with balancing your love of paper, paint and chemical art supplies with a desire to be a responsible, green consumer? I’ d love to hear how you reconcile these values so please do comment here or email me with your solutions and dilemmas. I’m looking forward to hearing about your greening.


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6 Responses

  1. Hi Terri! Thanks for finding me on Twitter. Your blog is exactly what I need as someone who has just taken the plunge to selling my art full time.

    I recycle jewelry and use the beads as new inspiration in my sterling silver designs. I am passionate about using recycled beads because I’m the same as you – I find inspiration in the medium. I’d rather design with the beads available to me, and make this challenge part of the artistic process. Working with silver means using chemicals is necessary for certain parts of the process, but I try to choose non-toxic options whenever possible.

    I’d love to hear what other earth friendly crafters are doing! Thanks for all the great advice I’ve found here.

  2. Thanks, Jessica for your comment. I am so glad to hear you have taken the leap into doing your art full time and in an environmentally responsible way. Look forward to seeing your tweets and your jewelry.

  3. I’m trying my best in making my crafting more “Green”. I started dyeing much of my wool using non-toxic Kool-Aid. This is great because I get to customize my pieces without using harsh chemical dyes. I also use Eco-Felt. It’s the regular craft felt you buy in the store, but many people haven’t looked into how this fabric is actually made of 100% recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. I also package all of my sold products in custom-made boxes. I save old cardboard boxes & cut them, turn them inside out (so they look nice), & tape up the seams. This way I can make any size I need & reuse the old cardboard that I get from mailed packages & boxes from stuff I buy, like and iron or t.v.

    Thanx for your always awesome advice!!!

  4. well my father used to or rather still does carefully cut the gift paper from the presents and saves it..first i would be like why does he do that…then on various occasions he would also keep the cardboard boxes that we would get… on Christmas or any personal occasions he carefully cuts various shapes and sizes out of the gift paper and them puts various sparkles and colors to make them very artistic and attractive….that quality of his is into me now and try to recreate as much as i can with stuff like this…

  5. Tanny, so glad you shared that and that you are following in your dad’s green footsteps. It’s funny, my SIL years ago, before anyone ever talked about recycling, used to carefully unwrap every gift and fold up the paper, keep the ribbon and cards as well. Then she would re-gift the front of the card again. We used to think she was just being thrifty. Now I appreciate her recycling efforts.

  6. Hooray for the Felted chicken for being green! I hope you are documenting your “greening’-it would make a great publication!

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