For November, the monthly craft question was: How do you go green with your crafting? Do you enjoy making eco-friendly projects?
As always, we asked our favorite bloggers and designers for their input and advice.
Here’s what they had to say:
Kimberly Crawford from For the Love of Paper
Yes! I love when I can repurpose the packaging of my supplies.
Jane Skoch from Maiden Jane
I have a hard time throwing things away in the house! I like to turn old t-shirts into quilts and pillows. Recently I started making totes from sweatshirts! I have also discovered some creative uses with coffee bags which are often discarded by local coffee companies. I love when I can create something practical and functional from garbage!
Shannon Bielke from Sha & Co
I teach a papercrafts class at our local jr. college, and almost all of our projects are green! We create beautiful, useful items using old cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, paper towels, used dryer sheets, and many other items found around the house. It’s not only satisfying to create beautiful projects, but it’s fun to see people’s surprise when we explain that our artwork was made from recycled paper goods. Somehow our projects are more personal when created from used products.
Kenda from My Insanity
I think the best way to be green about crafting is to “shop the house” and find what you can re-use/re-purpose. My mom has been “green” long before it even had a name. If clothing wore out, she would save the buttons or anything reusable before getting rid of it. She actually made my son an entire suit, out of a retired man-sized suit. I’m sure I have a long way to go in the “green” department, but I really feel that re-using materials, refurbishing furniture, and looking for project supplies in my own home first, is a good start!
Jen Goode from JGoode Designs
I love making projects out of things I have around the house already. The transformation from one thing to another is really fun to watch. Not only do I try to use basic recycled items like soup cans or plastic containers, but I also try to re-purpose fabric from old clothing or reuse the embellishments from other un-used items. I also make a point to save scraps for smaller projects and I teach my kids to do the same.
Jaime from Chirpings of Little Bird
I definitely enjoy making eco-firendly crafts! Most anytime I use felt for a project, I go to my stash of eco fi felt, which is made from post consumer recycled plastic bottles. I also enjoy using vintage findings to make fun pendants and such. I think it’s good to mix a little vintage/recycled/repurposed into ones crafting and find ways to keep things a little green.
Janet Perry from Nuts About Needlepoint
Although needlepoint is generally not considered to be an inexpensive craft, I have been thrifty with my needlepoint for almost 20 years. This has taken mainly two forms. First, I save all the odds and ends of threads into what I call my “scrap bag.” Inspired by Scrap Bag Quilts, I’ve made lots of needlepoint using primarily these threads. In fact, I have designed over two dozen projects based on these threads and had coverage in national magazines for them. But primarily, whenever stitching a new needlepoint, I always “shop my stash first.” All to often the tendency in needlepoint is to buy all new threads for every project. But that is wasteful and inexpensive. It also, I think, limits creativity. So I don’t buy threads when I buy a new project, I look through my stash to find threads that will work for the project. It’s been very successful. In fact, last year I challenged myself to use stash threads for as many projects as possible. I managed to use up over 200 threads in my stash. While it’s been a habit for quite awhile, it’s become a real passion for me to explore my threads to find the right one without buying a new thread. Finally my habit of shopping the stash first has now been expanded to include canvases as well. In my profession as a needlepoint teacher I often review new threads. I used to try them out by making small samples. Now I put my stash of canvases to use, by picking one from my stash and stitching it with the threads to review. Because they were in my stash I’m not spending money to buy them. But they probably never would have gotten stitched otherwise. This way I not only serve the purpose of my review but I am also able to make something that might not have been stitched. By doing this I was able to make five Christmas ornaments this year. Pieces that wouldn’t have been done otherwise.
I don’t think of what I’m doing as “green” in particular for a couple of reasons. First off, it just seems to me that the tradition of crafting and handwork has always in America made good use of what we had on hand. I remember my grandmother making me lovely clothes from women’s skirts or the bolt ends of men’s suiting fabrics she get from tailor friends. My husband’s family made quilts from salesman’s samples of men’s fabrics. I like to know that instead of following a trendy idea I’m following in their footsteps. Second, it also seems to me that our spending for crafts can consume us. But it’s not prudent or good stewardship of our finances or our resources to buy new all the time. We should be using what we have.
Tiffany Windsor from Cool2Craft
I have to definitely credit my mother Aleene, the original trim your trash guru! And my sister EcoHeidi has inspired me for years to go green with crafting. My favorite is her waterbottle bracelets. I love using water bottles to create fun fashion accessories. I’m also one to save most every scrap of paper, fabric and leftovers from other projects because there is always a use to be creative with even the smallest scraps! I even developed a line of craft embellishments called Ecodellies which I make from the leftovers I use when I pour my plaster trinkets. I couldn’t bear to throw even a few drops away so they became fun craft trinkets for others to enjoy and create with.
Lynn Colwell from Celebrate Green
I always try to substitute something I have on hand or can make myself (i.e. paint), when I’m doing a project. I have stopped buying much of anything other than non-toxic glues ( E600 is the exception since I’ve yet to find a sub). My crafting has become about what I have on hand and can turn into something wonderful. I aim to recycle as much as possible, buy larger sizes of things I might use often so I don’t have a bunch of little plastic bottles to toss. If I’m going to purchase something, I really consider the packaging and the life of the item. So many craft items are packaged in plastic that can’t be recycled. I do try to use it in projects if I can. Crafting with a conscience brings me greater satisfaction than any I ever receive from buying new.
Amy Anderson from ModPodge Rocks
I use old and recycled surfaces as much as I can. There’s no feeling better than turning something old or ugly into something new and pretty. It feels very good to keep items out of the landfill too. You won’t believe what you can make with Mod Podge and toilet paper rolls!
Ashely from Domestic Fashionista
My main way of going green (and saving myself some money!) is by using every little scrap. I have a whole drawer full of scrap fabric that gets used on little projects and I also use it as stuffing. By using what I already have (every tiny piece of it) I cut back on waste and do not have to buy more.
Alyice Edrich from Alyice Edrich Creatives
I am famous for having stacks of recently emptied cans and jars on the kitchen sink, to later be placed in boxes for upcycling. I love to alter them with scrap papers and paint. They make nice vases, trinket holders, and decorative pieces. I also like to cut hand painted papers that are too small for other crafts into triangles to later use in mosaics. Little by little I am discovering new ways to upcycle stuff around the house and the art studio. In the end it saves both the environment and my pocketbook.
Niki Meiners from Live a Life Handmade
Most of my craft projects incorporate some form of “green” crafting. It could be anything from buttons from and old shirt to toilet paper rolls turned into a gift card holder. One of my favorite items to recycle into my craft projects is cardboard boxes. The work so well in my Sizzix Big Shot and can be inked and painted. Do you enjoy making Eco-friendly projects? Absolutely I enjoy making Eco-friendly projects! Green crafting is a habit that is addicting. My husband and 8yr old son ask me if I need an item before they place it in the recycle bin.
Michael Sellick from the Crochet Crowd
Green doesn’t always mean you have to be a tree hugging individual. It could also mean use what you got or what will come to you anyway. Christmas is one of the most environmentally unfriendly times of the year. Flyers and newspapers are readily available. It’s why you will see my gifts wrapped up in newsprint and not fancy Christmas wrap. Fancy paper is really pretty to look at and people claim to save it, but the reality is more of us just chuck it and how many people will actually recycle it? Bottles of wine are perfect ideas for crocheting a cover for them to give away. More than likely the cover will be recycled and used again. It’s almost like re-gifting the cover over and over. You could choose non dyed yarns that are natural alpaca or even muskox. They will cost you more but it’s natural and projects usually are amazingly soft and warm. Crafting in general is green for yourself. It’s your own creativity that inspires your brain cells to spark and think, process, and then create. It brings you joy and you can spread your happiness through friends and charities.
In the first link above, I shared a doll that was sort of a “green” art experiment, made for last year’s holiday season. I tried to go as green as possible with that doll and the solstice dolls featured in the other two links above: first one being a how-to, and the last link being a photo feature of the finished dolls. I had bags of scrap fabric sitting around last year. I used the larger pieces to free-hand cut patterns for the dolls. Then I diced up all the fabric left over to use as stuffing for the dolls. I figured it was better than filling the land fill with fabric! On the larger doll, with the button crown, I also used found elements like the buttons, net from produce bag, found beads, and an old broken pin. It was all just sort of a challenge to make pretty and meaning-FULL things out of exactly what I had on hand, without buying anything more! Recycle, reuse, renew, and basically refuse to make scrap stuff into refuse for the land fill! Hoping to do something mindful like that again this year, too, but still dreaming on what exactly I’ll be making. Here’s to a “Green” New Year, too!
Maize Hutton from Maize in Montana
I keep a list of items I need for craft projects in my purse. I frequent thrift stores on a weekly basis and look for items that I can reuse for my projects. I’ve found knitting needles, crochet hooks, fabric, yarn, and many items I can cut apart, spray paint or re-invent! I’ve also found things at thrift stores that I actually need at home and I often pay less than what I’d pay for them new.
Tina Johnson from TStitchesandCrafts
One of the Green Things I do when it comes to crafting is I keep a scrap box. My scrap box is a box that contains bits of fabric that can’t be used for anything but scrap. I use these scraps as fill for projects that don’t require “fancy” fill. For example I made a kitty bed and I used batting for the top of the bed but I used scraps and other recycled filling under the batting to fill the middle and the bottom. I love when I can recycle something. I found how-to instructions on the internet for making cookie sheet memo boards. I grabbed three of my old cookie sheets, a can of spray paint, magnets and a few other misc. items and made my nieces memo boards for their rooms (Shhh! Wink! Christmas Gifts). Have a Happy Creative Day!
Laura Bray from KattyDiddys
Crafting green is so easy! I love to use dried out coffee filters (they are already “dyed” a beautiful sepia by the coffee). They make great flowers and you can even use them as tracing paper! I am also planning a quilt for my daughter’s room made from her old baby clothes. When you reuse your items, you are lowering the need for manufacturing & shipping of new products & you don’t have to use gas for your trip to the stores-the benefits of green crafting expand way beyond simply saving something from going in the trash!
Heidi Borchers from Eco Heidi
I’ve been Creatively Recycling/Green Crafting all of my life – My mother is Aleene as in Tacky Glue. Way before it was called green or eco or even recycling I was doing it!! It’s kind of cool it now has a name so I consider myself an EcoArtist. I make jewelry from plastic water bottles for other crafters to make and enjoy. I have a line of jewelry from aluminum soda that I sell on my site and in galleries across the country. My passion is finding useful creative projects from things we normally throw away. I currently show my Eco Crafting on Cool2Craft Crafting TV on your computer .Check it out and Happy Eco-ing.
Terri Ricioli from Terry Ricioli Designs
Green crafting is one of my all-time favorite things. Whenever I design children’s crafts, I try to incorporate at least one type of recyclable material, but I’ve also used them in adult crafts. I’ve used everything from plastic lids to foam packing peanuts to the plastic mesh bags that hold vegetables. One of my favorite materials is paper bags. I’ve even made jewelry from them. Stop by my blog in December for some simple ways to re-purpose and recycle materials you have around the house. Happy crafting!
Einat Kessler from Scrappin’ It
I enjoy making Eco-friendly projects and I always try to be as green as possible. Being a scrapbooker and a paper artist I always have trees on my mind. I try to use recycled paper in my scrapbbok layouts and design recycled projects, like this recipes box I made from a milk carton. I try not to throw anything. If I have CD’s I don’t need I’ll make a mini album from them. If I have empty cereal boxes I’ll use them for covers or pages for a card or a mini album. my friends call me the queen of scraps because I always use all my supplies even the packing. I think taking care of our planet is very important and we as artists and designers can show others how to use scraps in a creative way. After all one man’s garbage is another man’s treasures!