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Wednesday, 24 August 2011


One of my recent customers left this in the 'message to seller' box on Etsy: "Please reuse packaging if you can. Thanks!" and it got me thinking. Environmental awareness is growing steadily with buzzwords being thrown around left, right and centre: 'ecofriendly', 'sustainable', 'recycled', 'upcycled' etc. Certainly in the UK it is also a large, and increasing, part of the school curriculum
Rags from a worn out pair of old jeans

Naturally, the people drawn to handmade items are usually some of the most environmentally conscientious as well; handmade items by their very nature are usually more ecofriendly than their manufactured couterparts. Similarly handmade businesses are better placed to make sure their products and processes have the smallest environmental impact possible - the focus is on quality and care rather than speed and efficiency anyway.

So I decided to take a look at my workbench and analyse just how ecofriendly I am and where I could make improvements.

Copper scraps
Even the little things add up. I already mentioned that I have been recycling tissue paper for wrapping my packages and the bubble mailers I use are made from 100% recycled paper. My desk is littered with containers made from recycled plastic food pots, pringles pots and glass jars.

I also cut up worn out clothes to use as rags and keep all my old metal scraps. I haven't collected a huge amount yet but I think I'll be able to find somewhere that will melt down all my copper scraps when I have enough, I know this service exists for silver.

 Environmental Impact
I try to minimise the chemical impact of my crafting process in several ways. I use a natural, homemade pickle when soldering instead of buying chemical pickle. I also use water instead of pickle when I use self-fluxing solder.

Instead of using a chemical patinating agent the patina on all my items is developed purely from heating with a blowtorch.

Obviously there are still (and always will be) negative environmental impacts. I have to burn butane in my blow torch and the copper and gemstones I use have to be mined, processed and transported.

I can affect this a little by checking where my supplies come from, making sure they are transported as few times as possible and that the source is also doing as much as they can to minimise the impact.

How much do you think about the environment and your impact on it? Do you choose where you buy your products from carefully? Do you reuse? Or do you think its someone else's problem? Let me know :)

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