I've been working on living zero waste for almost a year now. For those of you who haven't heard of the zero waste lifestyle, essentially it means that you live your life in a way that creates as little garbage as possible. It turns out that it's much easier than I originally expected to not create any garbage. It definitely takes a little more effort than the average convenience lifestyle that most people are accustomed to, but I believe that we make the effort for the things that are important in our lives. Living a sustainable lifestyle is a high priority for me, so I am happy to put in the effort. Plus, I love making shit and that's a huge part of it. I've learned how to make my own dish soap, laundry detergent, moisturiser, deodorant, and toothpaste. Putting effort into your daily routine is so incredibly satisfying.
The only area of my life that has been a bit of a struggle in terms of zero waste has been my art practice. I primarily use acrylic paints, and those are essentially made from plastic. I haven't totally figured out a solution to the acrylic paint problem, but I have been experimenting with making my own paints using things like turmeric and beet root powder as pigments. It's been a really interesting experiment trying to figure out new techniques to reduce the waste that my art making creates.
Instead of buying paints in tubes, I'm now buying them in tubs. This way once they're empty, I can reuse them to mix other colours and store paint in. The cool thing about buying these containers is that you can't really get rare paint colours in tubs, it's mainly just your basics so I've been having to mix a lot more of my own colours. My colours are so much richer, more interesting and unique since I've started mixing them myself. I feel like a little alchemist, tinkering around with everything to find the exact right hue. The surfaces I'm using have also changed a lot. I'm no longer buying paper that comes packaged in plastic, so I'm limited to using certain brands, and sometimes having to cut larger pieces of paper down to size. I've been stretching my own canvases a lot more lately as well, which is incredibly satisfying in its own way. And I've always been doing this, but I paint over old paintings that aren't doing it for me anymore. It saves me some money, reduces waste and adds a really interesting base layer.
The most significant shift that this process has created for me is that it's made me really think a lot more about the materials that I'm using. I always thought that the materials were a really important part of my work, but it turns out that I never truly thought about them until I started thinking about how I purchased my supplies. By limiting the materials that I feel comfortable using, I've actually broadened what I can do. I've switched from using aerosol spray paints to mixing my own pigments in order to create a similar effect. I have to work a lot harder now to figure out how to get the desired effects that I want, and that's kind of really cool. It's made the process so much more interesting, and when your work is primarily about the process, that's pretty freakin' phenomenal.