I recently took a hiatus from intentional creativity. After months of watching friends excel in their creativity and being inspired by other’s creative journey, I felt ready to take the plunge. As I set up a painting station outside under my favorite tree I started thinking about how sustainable crafting can or cannot be. I set up a plastic sheet to catch any dripping paint, filled a plastic cup with water, pulled out my plastic bin filled with plastic tubes of paint and unwrapped the plastic wrap from a new canvas.
That’s a lot of plastic, right?
I purchased all of these craft supplies before my road to sustainability took a more serious turn. I’m sure many who find themselves on a journey to sustainability and zero waste find themselves in the same situation. The wrong thing to do would be to throw away all of the supplies because they are packaged in plastic. Instead, I give you 5 ways to create while being green if you are starting or are on a green journey.
1. Use What You Have
While this might seem obvious, crafters often have hoarding like tendencies. I’m sure we’ve all seen the meme that says someone walked into Target for some milk and walked out with 2 carts full of stuff and forgot the milk. This can be said for crafters walking into Michael’s or Joann’s. I admit I used to be one of these crafters. It wasn’t until I started being more mindful of my purchases that I realized all of those unused craft supplies (AKA spent dollars) weren’t serving a purpose. So, use what you have, and if you have crafty friends, see what they might have. Chances are they might not being using it and would be happy to contribute to your project.
|Photo by Folk Dreams Studio|
2. Craft Swap
Sometimes as a maker you know that the well thought out project you purchased all the supplies for is never going to get done. What better way to clear room in your craft room than to swap for craft supplies you may actually need or use? A few friends of mine got together and did just that. I traded fabric, buttons, and tons of scrapbooking supplies for watercolor paints, reusable plastic jars (for travelling!) and colored pencils. The left over supplies from the craft swap were donated to a local craft thrift store, which brings us to tip number 3.
3. Used Craft Supplies
Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure – especially if you want to save money. This is such a great way to get supplies for a new craft you might want to try, but aren’t 100% sure about. By giving craft supplies a new life, you are keeping things like paints that come in plastic out of the landfill for a little longer, while avoiding new purchases.
4. Thrifted and Vintage Supplies
My friend Joan is the host of Break + Remake, a blog and you tube channel that focuses on useful crafts make from thrifted and vintage supplies, giving the old a new life. I’ve had the pleasure of co-hosting an episode with her and sometimes get to help film. She has inspired me to find more sustainable vintage projects since I am a huge fan of both vintage and thrifted items. I recently shared on Instagram that my old man Oliver was having a tough time getting up on my bed. I repurposed a vintage sewing stool into a step for him to jump onto to get on my bed by simply reupholstering the seat. Quick, inexpensive projects can be found with a quick online search, at Break + Remake, or use your imagination.
5. Consume Consciously
If you are artistic, a maker or crafter, there will come a time when something used, borrowed, thrifted or vintage isn’t going to cut it. It is during those times that I encourage you to think about what it is you are purchasing and if there is a better alternative. Do you sew? How about organic fabric that comes from a trustworthy textile? If you use paints, make sure the VOCs are low. Try to purchase supplies locally if possible. By taking the time to reduce our carbon footprint, use of chemicals and waste, we can create green, eco-friendly projects that allow us to flex our creative muscle without compromising values.
For another great blog post on green crafting visit The Rogue Ginger, who also struggles with how much waste one of her favorite hobbies produces.