As an artist that works with a lot of toxic and not so environmentally friendly products, sustainable art practices are always at the back of my mind.
About a year ago, a friend of mine told me that she had found an article online about a girl living in NYC who claims to make "zero waste." The amount of garbage she creates in one year can fit in a small mason jar. We were both admiring, and sceptical of this endeavour ("What does she do about condoms??", we asked, which she actually answered in this blog post.) The idea of creating no waste has been at the back of my mind ever since, and while I do use a lot of sustainable practices, there are still several areas of my life where I am lacking. I recently rediscovered the zero waste girl's blog, Trash is for Tossers, and have since embarked on a journey to legitimately try to live as close to a zero waste lifestyle as possible.
My first thoughts when starting this were that it is going to take a hell of a lot of effort, but that it is definitely doable. There are just so many little things that you don't think about. For example, buying your produce from the farmer's market sounds like a sustainable practice. However, spinach still comes in a plastic bag at the farmers market. You have to have the forethought to bring your own reusable bags and ask the seller to take the spinach out of the plastic bag and put it in your own bag. And then repeat for every veggie or fruit that you want to buy. Doable, but a lot more effort than simply going to Superstore and buying a box of spinach.
The area of my life that I am having the biggest struggle with is art making. The paints that I love to use come in non-recyclable containers. Most sketchbooks are wrapped in a layer of plastic. While I am trying to navigate some of these trickier problems, I thought I would share a few of the sustainable art practices that I have come up with:
1. Bring a re-usable bag when you buy your art supplies.
2. Instead of buying a pad of small pieces of paper that comes in plastic and with a cardboard cover, buy one (or however many you need) large sheet of paper and cut it down into smaller pieces.
3. Try to buy paints that come in jars with lids, rather than in tubes. Once you have used up that paint, you can reuse the jar to mix your own colours in. The bonus is that if you don't use up all of your new colour, you can just seal it with the lid and use it again later.
4. Buy sketchbooks that are not wrapped in plastic, and are made from recycled paper.
5. Go to places like Value Village and Goodwill to buy frames for your work.
6. Experiment with using different mediums that come package free, for example you can buy many types of chalk and pastels without any packaging on them.
7. If you like texture in your paintings, try using what's on hand instead of buying a medium that's full of chemicals from a store. Mix some sand or some salt into your paints, or add some flour to thicken them up a bit.
8. When transporting paintings, wrap them in a piece of fabric rather than the plastic wrap most people use to wrap the corners. Fabric is re-usable! Do you need some fabric to wrap paintings in? I have sooooo much, hollah at me.
I'll be sharing more sustainable art ideas as I think them up and experiment. Let me know if you have any other low waste art making ideas in the comments!