Here to Create

We are here to create not merely survive.

Go Green with Your Creativity

¬† It’s Blog Action Day! Over the past month, I’ve posted about Creative Ways to Help the Environment, Environment Resources, and No Impact Man. Today I want to share some ways to go green with your creative activities.

Sometimes the creative spark can turn into a destructive wildfire. As I’ve become more aware of the seriousness of global warming and other environmental disasters, I’ve started to feel guilty about the environmental impact of some of my hobbies.

Over the past year, I’ve cut back on making jewelry for many reasons, one of which is my greater awareness of the destruction caused by mining the metal and gemstones I use. As I’m struggling with the choice to continue making jewelry, I’ve come up with some solutions that should make any creative pursuit a little greener.

Minimize Materials

  • When I make jewelry, I’m always dipping into my scrap bin to make use of every bit of wire. For jewelers who work in gold and silver, many companies will take scraps and recycle them for credit on your next metal order.
  • Incorporate recycled materials into your work. Try adding found materials like old computer components, “junk” purchased at auctions, and scraps of paper into your work, whatever is appropriate for your medium.
  • Use recycled paper and other supplies whenever possible. If you work with paper arts, try making your own paper out of scrap.
  • Try designing with a minimalist philosophy. You may like the results, and you’ll help the environment by reducing your materials.

Use Your Tools Well

  • Buy good quality tools that will last, then take good care of them so they never need to be thrown away.
  • When disposing of a computer or other tool, do so responsibly by taking it to a recycling center.

Check Your Sources

  • Research the impact of the materials you’re using. I’m going to stop using materials derived from animals, like leather and pearls, as soon as I’ve sold my current stock. And I’m reconsidering the precious metals and gemstones I use, due to the harm done by mining.
  • Contact the manufacturers of your materials to see what their environmental policies are. If they aren’t sustainable, let them know that this concerns you. Your voice matters! Support businesses that are sustainable.

Go Digital

  • If you haven’t already, buy a digital camera. Yes, a new camera has an environmental cost, but it will make up for the film and harmful developing chemicals necessary with a film camera. Be sure to donate or recycle your old camera, and use rechargeable batteries.
  • I’m definitely guilty of using a lot of paper to write, but I’m working on improving. Try gradually increasing the amount you write on the computer instead of with pen and paper. Over time, you may find you like it better, and you’ll save some trees. If you do write on paper, recycle your old notes if you discard them.

Offer Your Skills

  • Volunteer your time and skills to a local environmental group. Offer to design a website, write some copy, or take some photos for the cause. They’ll be glad to have your help.
  • Even if all you have to offer is time, look into local environmental groups. Participate in garbage cleanups or maybe help advocate for more bike trails in your town.

Grow New Interests

  • Adopting an environmentally conscious attitude when it comes to creativity may be a great opportunity to discover new interests.
  • Challenge yourself to create a recipe with only local ingredients. You’ll find out more about what grows in your area and you’ll have an excuse to visit the farmer’s market.
  • Gardening is a great way to help the environment. You get the benefits of fresh food and the creative fun of designing and planning your garden.

Just as you should incorporate a creative outlook into every day, try to think green every day. What can you do to help the environment? Share your ideas in the comments.

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Creative Ways to Help the Environment

Groceries carried on the back of a bikeIt’s easy to be overwhelmed by the news of global warming, polluted rivers, depleted oceans, and increases in asthma due to air pollution. It’s easy to be fatalistic and think that one person can’t make a difference. But a lot of little everyday changes can add up to a big positive impact. Here are some creative ways my fiance and I are trying to make a difference.

Drive as little as possible.
My fianc√© bikes everywhere he can, even to get groceries sometimes. We also sometimes walk to nearby stores, both for the exercise and because it seems wasteful to drive such a short distance. I don’t have the ability to bike everywhere, but I do all my errands on my route home from work. I never make extra trips if I forgot something at the grocery store; we just do without until the next time. I do plan to reduce my car usage even further, and my fiance hopes to go car-free, except for trips out of town, by next year.

Get reusable grocery bags.
I bought bags from 1 Bag at a Time about six months ago, and they’re one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. They are only about two dollars apiece, and my grocery store gives me a .05 credit for each bag. It doesn’t seem like much, but it does mean the bags will pay for themselves with only 40 trips to the store. They come in sets of 10 and make great environmentally conscious gifts. My one caveat is that they don’t withstand cat claws very well. Otherwise, they are incredibly sturdy, holding much more than a standard plastic grocery bag, and they’re recyclable.

Eat less meat.
I am vegan, and my fiance eats far less meat then he used to. One of the reasons we eat less meat is the environmental impact of raising animals for food. Studies have concluded that “the difference between a meat-based and plant-based diet amounts to the same as driving an SUV versus a small sedan.” Rather than a hardship, we view eating less meat as an opportunity to get creative with our cooking. We’ve discovered some great new foods and recipes that we otherwise wouldn’t have tried. My favorite recipe site is Fat Free Vegan.

Eat locally.
Every summer, I have let the season go by without making use of the nearby the farmers’ markets. This summer, I bought more at the farmer’s market and also took advantage of my parents’ garden. Not only was the food fresher, but it also had to travel fewer miles and was organically grown. I would love to follow the local food part of the No Impact Family’s lifestyle, but other than summer gardens, there just aren’t a lot of options in my area. I do put more thought into where my food comes from than I used to, and I will take advantage of the farmer’s markets even more next summer.

Find activities that don’t use resources.
The best way to entertain yourself without using natural resources is by getting outside. Go for walks, bike rides, or play games like Frisbee golf, even in October. It’s a great excuse to get out and splash through the fallen leaves. Even activities that do use natural resources can be minimized. Check out books from the library or frequent used book stores rather than buying a brand new copy. Most libraries also have movies and music to check out. Spend less time on the computer and shut it off when not in use. Watch Freecycle and thrift shops for used board games. In general, the less entertainment based on buying new things, the better for the environment. I found this much easier to practice when I stopped watching TV, with its constant bombardment of ads.

Other than obvious methods like recycling and using rechargeable batteries, these are some of the ways we do our part to help the environment. We’re always on the lookout for more ways we can help when our situation allows it. Some of our favorite ideas include:

Composting in the kitchen.
As soon as I read about the No Impact Man vermiculture project, I wanted worms of my own. I grew up in the country where my parents had a garden and a compost pile. It’s always bothered me, especially since I started eating healthier, to sweep that pile of vegetable trimmings into the landfill where it will never see the air again. But if I had my very own worms, I could just collect the compost and deliver it to my parents’ garden, or add it to the little pot of herbs I grew on the front step this summer. It will take some more research, though, especially on how to keep the worms safe from the cats.

Green cleaners.
Environmentally friendly household cleaners don’t necessarily have to be more expensive. We’re slowly using more and more natural cleaners, like vinegar and baking soda. My fiance uses baking soda to brush his teeth, but I’m still working through my stockpile of toothpaste. I’ve started buying vegan and environmentally friendly shampoo, but I’d rather do a little more research and learn how to make my own, as well as other cleaners. Again, No Impact Man has some suggestions that I have yet to try. I look forward to the day when we’re not dumping anything harmful down the drain.

Far future ideas.

Then we have some ideas that will have to wait quite a while. If we can afford it, we want our next car to be a hybrid, since there’s really no possibility of going completely car-free in our area. If we ever have a house of our own, we’d like to install solar panels, collect and reuse greywater, and use a composting toilet, as well as grow a lot of our own food. Someday. For now there are plenty of things we can do. What do you do to help the environment? I’d love to hear in the comments.

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For more ideas on what you can do to help the environment, check out these suggestions at Blog Action Day.

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