Buying from small, independent businesses who make most of their products by hand is a highly sustainable practice. Many craft businesses work in an ethical manner. While conversations around eco credentials have been making rounds in the craft world for many years.
Small businesses are often extremely adaptable, and able to make changes quickly as their products are made on a small scale.
As sustainability has for many become an essential component of decision making when buying craft, below is a guide of some green flags to look for when browsing handmade products.
Businesses concerned with sustainability tend to be very vocal about doing so, to attract the ethically conscious consumer. Being transparent about what suppliers, materials and processes a small craft business is using is a very good sign that they are taking the planet and its resources into account. And that they will strive to improve over time!
Sustainable and recycled materials
When browsing an online shop of a craft business, take a closer look at the materials listed in making the wares. Are they recycled or eco materials?
Some disciplines naturally lend themselves to a sustainable way of working. Ceramics, for example, are primarily made from the natural materials of clay or porcelain. Ceramic clay is abundant and sourced from the earth. Most potters also collect and reuse their excess material.
Jewellery is an area with a strong discussion about material usage, with many jewellers making the move to recycled metals. Mining for new precious metals is a damaging process that has a negative impact on the planet and people. Look for makers who use recycled gold and silver in their making processes. While this may increase the prices of the product, it is worth it for the lesser impact on our environment.
Jewellers are also starting to consider the impact of precious gemstones. There are now excellent alternatives available when it comes the sparkle in your jewellery. Lab grown diamonds have become increasingly popular in the last couple of years.
In fashion, buying from collections made on a small scale, or made to order, is a much more sustainable practice than a high street store. The choice of material is also important, with many makers turning to the eco friendly organic cotton, hemp, silk, wool, or linen. There are also emerging contemporary fabrics such as Lyocell, with biodegradable and compostable fibres.
Eco friendly packaging
While changing materials and processes to more sustainable ones might be a lengthy process for businesses to undertake, using eco friendly packaging is a quick way to make a difference. Look for photos of packaged products or information about the packaging on the maker’s website. There are many great alternatives to unsustainable plastics, even when packaging fragile goods. Craft businesses that trying to make every part of the packaging reusable or recyclable is a good sign that sustainability is a consideration in their practice.
Making considered sustainable choices when buying craft can be a minefield. Hopefully this guide is a start in helping you to know what essentials to look for to make the most eco-friendly decisions.