How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint in the Studio
Conservation is not just about recycling, but it is FIRST about Reducing, then it is Reusing and finally recycling. If you are working to reduce your carbon footprint here are a few things you can do in the studio.
1 Stop using paper towels. I realize that there are time when the only thing that will work is a paper towel, however, for everyday things like drying your pieces as they come out of the tumbler, use a rag. In my studio, I have a stack of old dish towels, this way I don’t care about how I stain the towel or the potential chemicals that might be on there. For really messy jobs, I keep a pile of cut-up old t-shirts. I use these t-shirts like you would a paper towel, one use. BUT lets be honest, they are still not “one use”. After I have used these rags, they go into a bag for recycling. Yup! Rags can be recycled. Simply put them (dirty) in a bag marked “SALVAGE” and put them in those bins for clothing donations to help world hunger (or the like). Almost all of them send unwearable clothes to textile mills to be made into rags sold to hardware stores. Really! If you are skeptical, call the 800 number on the bin and ask them. I did.
2 Recycle ALL of your metals. Aside of from saving gold, silver, and copper, people forget about brass and steel. It takes a little more effort to recycle the other metals but they are ALL recyclable. I recently learned that all metals that are not collected by the city for recycling can be turned into the scrap yard. The best part is, they will actually give you money for all of this stuff; granted they are pennies, at least it will pay for your gas money and you will feel good about doing your part.
In my studio, I have a container for brass and “other” metals. “Other” metals would be worn out drill bits, staples (yes, I said staples!), lids from jars, any non-working electronics, etc. (I will take apart ANYTHING that has metal and put it in this jar.)
3 Reuse ALL plastic bags until there is a hole then put it in the recycle bin at the grocery store with the shopping bags.
4 Reduce waste. We have all purchased more than we should have with really good intentions for future projects. But then 5 years go by and it is still on a shelf. Instead of throwing it away consider giving it to an art teacher, Girl Scout troop or a local art center. They love this stuff and you might be able to take it off your taxes!
5 Use less water. Too often people run water unnecessarily. Consider simply turning it down and not running a faucet at full power.
6 If you are shipping your work, use recycled envelopes and boxes. I know that it is nice to send a pretty box but is it really necessary? Though some people still frown on this, I have found that by adding a little sticker that says something like, “we support recycling for a healthier environment, please join us in this effort…etc” goes a long way and people will appreciate your efforts. Additionally, it saves you a little money.
It is not lost on me that my profession is a complete contradiction to a conservation lifestyle so I do my best where and when I can. Trying is better than not.