Sustainable Crafting is the New Black

A guest post from Victoria Klein, author of 48 Things To Know About Sustainable Living.

washed wool leggings by stephanie teague - click image for more info

Hi, hello there. Victoria Klein here – you might remember me from my Find Your Creative Spark in Physical Motion post a few months ago. I’m back to chat with you again, but not about yoga. Let’s chat about crafting.

Whether you create new things out of a personal passion, growing a small business, or both, there’s one thing you might not have contemplated:

where do my supplies come from?

No, I’m not talking about Joann Fabrics or Michael’s or your favorite online seller. Where do your supplies come from? What are you supplies made from? (Even supplies have supplies!)

You may be surprised to find that you yarn, paint, clay, fabric, paper, or glaze is made in a dirty factory in a third-world country by underpaid workers exposed to toxic chemicals which – eep – are also in your supplies. This is the dark reality of our burgeoning love for crafting.

Sustainability to the rescue! Like so many other areas of our lives, we have a choice when it comes to the supplies we use in our crafty endeavors. Eco-friendly supplies come in a variety of forms: organic, natural, non-toxic, repurposed, biodegradable, water- based, vintage, local, refillable, recycled – just to name a few. They all have one thing on common: sustainable crafting supplies were developed and created to have the lowest possible impact on the environment or your health.

Choosing “green” supplies is not only a healthy personal choice, but it is also quite business-savvy. You won’t want to voluntarily expose yourself or your family to toxic chemicals or encourage environmental degradation (i.e. removing entire forests, water and air pollution … etc.) – why would you do the same to your customers?

The availability of sustainable crafting supplies continues to grow steadily. Name a resource and there’s an 80% chance there’s a more eco-friendly alternative. To spur your creativity (and planet-consciousness), here are a few fantastic sites you’ll bookmark in a heartbeat:

Integrating sustainability into any realm of your life is easy, affordable, and fun – yes, I said fun. That’s the whole reason I wrote my second book, titled 48 Things to Know About Sustainable Living. From farmer’s markets, traveling, and vintage shops to weddings, home offices, and pets, you’ll have a great introduction to the world of eco-conscious living. Bonus: sustainable living encourages you to think outside the box, which can do wonders for those times when you are devoid of ideas or forward momentum.

No matter what or why you craft, your creative pursuits have impacts you may never experience … and I’m not talking about the positive ones. Choosing sustainable supplies is the best bet for the entire world (even if you’re only crocheting a potholder).

How do you craft sustainably?

About Victoria Klein
Victoria Klein is a freelance writer, photographer + creative dabbler. Her 2nd book, 48 Things to Know About Sustainable Living, was released in October 2010. Her 1st book, 27 Things to Know About Yoga, was released in July 2010.

24 thoughts on “Sustainable Crafting is the New Black

    1. Hi Victoria,
      I just found your article about Sustainable Crafting (about 2 years later 😉 and love it!
      My new online store (www.fullcirclecrafts.com) is right down that alley, and I founded it with the same sustainable goals in mind. Please check it out if you are interested, and of course I would more then love a mention in one of your posts!!

      Sustainably yours,
      Monika

  1. Hello, Victoria! This is a great post and very informative! I have a fashion blog and I love fashion. I don’t design professionally, but I make small thing here and there and I always wonder about the source of my supplies! Thanks for the links!

  2. Thanks for the sustainable fabric links! I currently try to buy all of my fabric from small, independent shops and buy organic fabrics as often as I can. I’ve been thinking about off setting the electricity that I use to sew, I know that off setting is not ideal, but I’ve been toying with the idea (someday, maybe, I can have a little solar or wind powered studio). I save all my scraps to make other things and I’ve been saving the spools from yarn to donate to a kids crafting program (at least they can have another life as a craft project, since they can’t be recycled where I live).

    Its always good to have reminders about sustainability, thank you.

  3. You’re very welcome, Anna – thank YOU for taking the time to read my post & comment :) It sounds like you are doing a great job of finding sustainable options, not only for fabric, but also for the scraps & your craft room – congrats!

  4. Thank you for this article!
    I make jewelry, and in several past months i realized i don’t want to buy china mass produced supplies anymore. I’m trying to find vintage whenever i can, etsy is a great source, and started making my own platings, safe and natural, made in my studio. It’s much more time consuming and expensive, but i feel much better about my work now. I feel more in peace with myself.

  5. I’m an artist, and toxicity is always an issue. But I’m also a knitter as a hobby, and one of the things I love is that I can buy organic yarns. Not only that, I can and do, get wool that I spin into yarn myself. You can’t get much more organic than that and it’s local, too. Thanks for the fabric link – that has been a dilemma for me especially the cottons. Lots of imports there, too, alas. As to energy-consumption, the high-firing cost is one of the reasons I stopped fusing glass. Just too much energy embedment. Thanks for another great tour stop Victoria!

  6. Great post! I try to use vintage fabrics in my creations, also fabric samples and end-of-bolt pieces of discontinued fabrics which would otherwise be thrown away. Even some high-end decorator fabric shops give away samples or sell scraps at low prices. It makes buying fabric fun, as I never know what I’m going to find.

  7. Thanks for this post! I am starting to think about this more and more and appreciate that you provided RESOURCES!!!! yay! Now I have more ideas about where to go to solve my eco-crafting dilemmas (and oh do I have eco-crafting dilemmas! :) )

    Thanks!
    Kristen

  8. Great post! Thanks for the links – some interesting places to explore :)

    Whilst not strictly eco-crafting, when I started making polymer clay beads, I e-mailed all the manufacturers of my materials to ask if their products were contained animal products or by-products, and thankfully most didn’t :D. (I also stuck the list on my blog for other people to check)
    But one of the things that worries me with sourcing eco-friendly/vegan/organic products is you have to rely on the suppliers’/makers’ words, who may just be using these concepts as ‘buzzwords’ for publicity :( It seems to only true way to be sure it to make *everything* yourself!

  9. Victoria (nice name): I’m glad to hear that you made the conscious choice to create more sustainable crafts. :) The plethora of vintage options is amazing – personally, I find them to be even more beautiful & inspiring than pieces that all look alike. My mantra: quality over quantity

    Dani: Thank you so much for stopping by & commenting :) You are always so supportive! Eco-knitting is one of my favorite crafts too – I can’t get enough of the gorgeous, natural-dyed organic cottons available these days (no wool for me, too itchy)

    Laura: I’m glad you enjoyed my post :) Also, props to you for sourcing fabrics from so many sustainable arenas. It’s amazing how inspiring just 1 yard of unique fabric can be!

    Kristen: You’re very welcome – thank you for reading my post & commenting :) I’m glad my list of resources was helpful as well. The internet is still source #1 for sustainable craft supplies, but local stores are starting to get the hint.

    Hazel: I’m glad you enjoyed my post :) Congrats on being pro-active & asking questions – that is a great way to insight change! Sharing your findings with others is also fantastically helpful. Sustainable products are sadly “trendy” now, but the key is that we have to do the research ourselves – don’t believe all the hype. Ask questions, use logic, do research.

  10. Awesome. I’m all about having a sustainable life! I love to use copper in my chain maille work and actually upcycle electrical wire to do it. I strip the plastic coating and then unwind the gorgeous copper wire beneath it. For my herbal products (coming soon to my shop) I use stainless steel, glassine bags, and glass packaging in order to avoid plastic and give my customers an opportunity to reuse or recycle. I also use sustainable palm oil which is rain forest and orangutan friendly.

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