Recently, somebody suggested your blog and I got hooked. I have noticed all the waste that I consume and produce earlier and have been trying a little to buy more consciously in the supermarket, but found it very hard so far. I'm very inspired by your ideas and how consequent you live them!
Now here's a question for you: I like to do produce things. I like to knit, sew and paint or draw for fun. I see how I can use the knitting in a waste-sensitive way (give away or wear the stuff) but what to do about the masses of sheets of paper with mediocre paintings and sketches? Nobody would buy those of course and I eventually just throw the biggest part away. Of course it's just paper, but anyway- any suggestions on how to handle this? It's a nice hobby and I don't want to quit.
First of all, sounds like a wonderful use of your talent and time!
Not Bea, but some possibilities:
Share your art as notepaper/cards/wrapping paper (I'd be thrilled to receive a note with a friend's original art). Also, reuse for Origami, collage, homemade paper. Use fabric instead of paper(?)...
Think from the other perspective, too -and you probably are doing this- don't start with "new" materials: sew/knit with recovered material, same with your art work.
This is a great topic, because I think a lot of crafty people put there are making lots of fun, cute stuff out there, but it ultimately ends up in the trash.
Knitting is tough because it generally means buying yarn ( with that loop of glossy cardboard packaging) and then making a bunch of things for friends and relatives that, let's face it, probably don't get used or worn. I have a generous aunt who has made me probably 20 scarves, but sadly I only have really worn 2 of them. I have loved my crocheted queen-sized blanket that another aunt gave me as a wedding gift, but that's a lot of yarn ( not a waste in my opinion, though, if a person sleeps under it every night).
Sewing can be a good waste-diverting hobby, though. If you use second hand fabric and make things people will really use. I've seen great t-shirt quilts for teenagers made from all of the t's they get from sports and activities. I made a pillow case out of an ill-fitting pair of trousers. I've made burp cloths and bibs out of towels, shirts, pajama bottoms, etc (the trick is using good fabric that is still in like-new condition, but is currently something you just don't wear or use). It's better than putting clothes in those textile recycling bins. Many of the pieces donated in them end up getting only one more use as an industrial rag, then end up in landfills. A homemade burp cloth can be used over and over, and are often more absorbent than store bought ones.
As far as drawings and paintings go, I like jays idea of using them for notecards and gift wrap. I am currently making reusable christmas gift boxes by collecting shoeboxes and decoupaging them . I think i am going to use secondhand sheet music with christmas songs, but you could do the same with your paintings. I am also making some fabric gift bags from a gold colored damask sheet and ribbon that I saved from our wedding gifts. Its not exactly zero waste, as eventually these items will become trash, but we will be able to use them for years and years! I know a family that has been filling the same set of Christmas boxes and stockings for about 20 years of zero waste gift wrapping.
How about making things and donating them to charity? Either for people to use or to sell for funds? That was your family (or yourself) don't end up with 100 unneeded jumpers, you get the pleasure of making and the charity or their service users benefit? :)
I share your pain. You've probably thought of these by now, but just in case:
Knitting: I found loads of charity drives that ask people to knit things. Google 'knitting charity' and your country to find some. I've found knitting wool partly used on eBay and at a charity craft shop that sells donated craft materials in my city (Sydney). I found them by Googling 'used craft supplies materials'. I also used up my leftover wool to practise my stitches and make dish cloths and rags!
Sewing: it would be SO handy to have sewing skills for Zero Waste living and I wish mine were better. They're essential for mending and altering clothes, especially those bought second hand; useful for sewing old sheets into grocery bags; sewing hankies; and so on. The internet is awash with green sewing projects, many of which are not zero waste, but some are. Again, I have found un-used fabric bolts on eBay and at my donated craft store when I wanted to sew something 'new' (but I paid someone else to do it).
Painting and drawing: think about giving away any materials you do not use regularly (eBay is good for this). I took what was too old to be used to my council's chemical collection point. Then I enjoyed what I had left until they were all used up; the challenge was not to buy more as each colour runs out! I'm using up the last dregs of acrylic paint with a wood & metal letter stamps (from eBay) to replace my beloved Label Maker. I mixed in some crushed blackboard chalk and stored it in a glass jar with a scrap of felt on top of the paint - this made the stamp pad. The chalk makes it stick to any surface. This is how I labelled my spice jars, magazine and hanging files, storage boxes, everything.
Then investigate eco-friendly options for painting and drawing. I've had a lot of fun coming up with these and have learned alot. My favourite way to paint now is with natural pigments that I use to mix my own paints - watercolour, tempera, chalk paints and oils. I have an arrangement with a local DIY cosmetic supplier to purchase the pigment powders I need in re-used glass jars. These are cosmetic grade, so I use them for both painting and makeup making! I paint very small (I make model buildings and miniatures), but I have found online sources and art shop suppliers that sell the pigments in paper and glass. These materials are compostable, but you have to check exactly what you're getting.
I found replacing drawing materials more difficult. I could not find too many zero waste artist quality pencils. I have largely replaced the coloured pencil drawing I used to do with graphite and I add colour with water colours. This way, what isn't quality artwork can be composted.
A word on compost: the 'rot' of the 5 Rs generally ranks more highly in my household. Since I grow my own herbs, most veges and some fruit, I can never have enough compost!