Sunday, 17 March 2013

7 ways to make your crafting more ethical

Like many people, I'm getting pretty concerned about waste, the environment, and the bad things going on around the world. By handmaking things, we're already taking a step in the right direction. Anything we make ourselves is something we know wasn't made in a sweatshop somewhere.

Rhiannon and I are always looking for ways to improve our ethical practice. Here are some of the things we keep in mind while crafting.

Try to use your stash
Obvious steps first. Avoid buying unless you have to. Also, I find that searching through what I own stimulates my creativity and encourages me to think in different directions.

3 pumpkins from one old tea towel

Buy ethically
When you do need something your stash can't provide, think about the materials you are buying. Make sure you know exactly what amount you need so you don't buy wastefully. Consider that natural materials will potentially be compostable at the end of their useful life. They are also often much nicer. Organic is another thing to look out for.

Buying local is a lot harder to do with craft supplies than, say, food, but if an opportunity does come up - take it!

Also look into second hand. Some vintage shops have fabric scraps or trims, and most op shops do too. Also nice fabrics from clothes and linens can be rescued for other crafts. You will also find more unusual and interesting fabrics.

This petticoat was an op-shop sheet

Do crafts that work on different scales
Most of my stash is leftover from the days when my primary focus was clothes and costume. When I started making hats, I discovered how far the leftovers from clothes would go on small hats. Some pieces have made half a dozen hats. Playing around with tiny crafts, like Christmas ornaments, means even smaller bits of scrap are useful.

Lots of little scraps were used up on this guy

Use even the smallest scrap
I've been saving everything recently, including thread, and using it to stuff soft toys (in the centre, surrounded by real stuffing to keep it soft). Don't make soft toys? Maybe pincushions or little padded Christmas ornaments could help. Or if you are using natural materials, chuck them in the compost.

This whale is made from a leftover school project apron and partially stuffed with fabric scraps

Organise a Craft Swap
Maybe you aren't sure that you like that fabric or trim anymore, but you have some crafty friends. Get together over some cakes and exchange for something more your taste.

Maybe you don't need ALL these ribbons...

Use libraries and the internet
I love a new craft book as much as the next person. As fun as buying brand new craft books can be, most libraries will have a range of craft books that contain information and project ideas, and huge amounts of information, tutorials and patterns can be found on the internet. If you do buy, try to buy second hand.

Giving up a craft? Give your supplies away
Someone will want them! Op shops will take a lot of stuff, if you don't personally know anyone who'll take it. Ok I don't think I've ever actually given up a craft, but theoretically it might happen!

Compost monster likes ethical crafts

What steps do you take? We'd love to hear any more ideas.


  1. thanks for this article. It is HARD to give away a carefully collected (OK - hoarded) stash when you know you are unlikely to do that craft again - there is only so much time available.....

    1. Absolutely, Sally! I feel the same way, and I feel like I never know when I might want to return to that craft after all...

      I'm glad you enjoyed this post :)