How to Reconcile Being Crafty and Being Green

This post was originally published at www.greenphonebooth.com where I contribute as the Mindful Echo. It’s a great blog for those of you interested in environmental issues of all sorts. Check it out!

Although I titled this entry as a “How to,” I really meant it more of a question. Seriously. How do I reconcile the two corners of this dichotomy?

In some ways, being crafty and being green make total sense together. Craftiness can be borne from a desire to be thrifty, to reuse, and to repurpose. However, if you’re anything like me, it takes no time at all to get lost in a list of attempted projects, many half-completed, and most requiring mountains of supplies.

I made this Venn Diagram to help me better understand this complex issue. 🙂 Craft Green Venn Diagram

Now that the holiday season is rapidly approaching (side note: Christmas music was playing in the grocery store yesterday!), I’m starting to organize myself for handmade gifts. Sure, there are some no-brainers that amalgamate being crafty and being green such as consumables (homemade jams, soaps, etc.), but what about the other stuff? What about the ornaments, decorations, and toys?

I guess the big question can be broken down to this: Is it worth purchasing *new* craft supplies for the purpose of a handmade gift? The answer, I think, is yes (but carefully). 

It is SO EASY to get caught up with every “____-in-a-jar” recipe, and book-page garlands, and designs for winter jackets made entirely from coffee filters. So I think the solution is two-fold: first is to get organized and second is to embrace that inner environmentalist.

Organize Yourself

  • Make a list of the handmade items you’re going to attempt.
  • Find detailed instructions or tutorials that clearly outline what products you will need.
  • Take an inventory of what needed craft items you already own.

Embrace your Inner Environmentalist

  • Decide if there are any items on the list that are particularly harmful to the environment. Does your wreath project really need a styrofoam base? Can those items be substituted for a less-harmful alternative?
  • Consider if you can find any of the items in your recycling bin. Jars, cans, paper bags, magazines, are often valuable items in the realm of craftiness.
  • Check your thrift stores. It’s no guarantee but I have often found packages of brand-new craft items at my local thrift store, including yarn and scrapbook paper.

Once you’ve gone through these steps, consider yourself cleared by moi for a trip to your craft store. I think by this point it safe to say that you’ve done well to stay green. Now, go forth and craft. And may the force be with you.

7 thoughts on “How to Reconcile Being Crafty and Being Green

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  3. Glad this post popped up just now.

    It’s hard to see a clear right or wrong at times, but sometimes it can be really be seen as black or white. Kid crafts almost always involve plastic-y glittery, shiny, things…. We try to utilize what we have and make crafts that last. Ornaments for holidays I have less of an issue with, but sometimes I cringe at the waste.

    This morning I had a wee dilemma. Nothing at all to do with me or my kids. There was a story on CBS Sunday Morning about a young man who was legally blind and he was a painter… he used a plastic “goop” to lay out his art and then painted it black, then added colour and it was beautiful.. a wonderful story of triumph plus he’s lovely and donated art and earnings.

    But! Oh the goop. I can’t figure out where to stand.

    Then my logical brain says, we humans can do lots, but BIG industries do more harm than we ever could. Is the responsibility all on us?

    • I don’t really have a problem with people using what they need to when making something accessible. My issue is more so with the careless over-consumption of those little plastic parts that look like fun, crafty additions but end up creating more waste. I think we can all be more responsible when crafting and think about using what’s already available before throwing more money at the mass-produced, over priced craft items so many of us (myself included) become seduced by.

      • That’s exactly it! I absolutely agree with you.

        Packaging is still my number 1 beef, I think. It drives me mad.

        I love what the Queen of Green (David Suzuki Foundation) says. That one of our Rs has been #1 for far too long and it’s time to get Reduce and Reuse to the front of the line. 😉

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