Something that I am very passionate about is trying to have less negative impact on the planet. My little changes aren't going to make any big waves, but If there is one thing that will help (if we all did it) is to try to avoid the dreaded SINGLE USE PLASTIC!
I thought that I would go into how I have changed my materials to remove these pesky plastics. Settle back and prepare for one of the most exciting blog posts you'll ever read...
Sometimes it is a near impossible task to avoid the single use packaging but I have managed to almost completely remove it from all my packaging and shipping items. The one thing which still has single use is the heavy recycled card envelopes that I use which have one of those plastic rip strips. I have not yet found an equivalent envelope without it to replace it but I'm hoping they will appear once demand is greater. I notice Amazon have rip strips without plastic now so it isn't impossible. For those of you UK based, 'Best Buy Envelopes' are where I source my rigid recycled mailers.
'Jiffy Bag' Mailer replacements & Small boxes
I have now got through all my old jiffy bags (with bubble wrap in them) and am now replacing those with 'Enviroflute' mailers (all paper but behave like a jiffy) and
use these or small cardboard boxes for sending enamel pins and similar.
GLASSINE - Cellophane bag replacements
Be sure when you are looking for cellophane replacements to look for 'compostable' and not 'biodegradable'. The latter means it still has to be degraded in a very specific way (usually needing high temperatures) so will not always be degradable if it is not processed in the right way. The word you want is 'compostable' which means that you could put it in the compost heap and it will rot away with no damage to the environment... YAY! There are loads of options for clear compostable envelopes now which is fantastic. Also another thing to note with compostable bags is that they have a shelf life too.
I do not need my bags to be clear though since I do not show my work at fairs or shows so I have replaced all my cellophane bags with Glassine envelopes. These are what you would find stamp collectors using as they are acid free and archival and recyclable (and compostable since they are paper based). I ship my prints and originals in these and if the original is too big I have either tissue paper or sheets of glassine to wrap them in. This is not waterproof (only 'resistant') however but in the case of an original, it is going to be wrapped in several layers of protection (including bubble wrap that I reuse from items sent to me) and with prints which are not so well wrapped, if they are destroyed I am happy to eat the cost of a replacement print for the sake of the planet. So far I have not had any issues with damaged items in these envelopes.
UPDATE! Since writing this blog I have run out of glassine envelopes and found it extremely hard to get replacements which is very frustrating. It's easier to find smaller bags in glassine but not the big ones I was using for my A4 sized prints and books. I have since found some starch bags which are compostable which are water and oil resistant. I found these on eBay, but you will be able to find many places that sell starch bags. Make sure they say 'home compostable' on them and not 'biodegradable' too!
Paper Stickers VS Vinyl/Plastic Stickers
I think that arguably a vinyl sticker is not 'single use' since it is a piece of art that will last a considerable amount of time stuck to the object of your choice. For me though I don't like the idea of it so I have chosen to only produce paper stickers which are happily much easier to come by these days! I get my sheets of paper stickers (for keeping my glassine envelopes closed) from Stickythings.co.uk which is a really great company and I highly recommend them. There are a few companies if you do some googling which will produce individually cut paper stickers rather than just the vinyl ones.
Aside from book covers which might need that extra bit of protection, I am choosing uncoated paper which has not had a plastic laminate finish. This means all prints/cards etc from me will be recyclable and not have a plastic finish. (It also suits the watercolours rather well!)
Kitchen towel for painting
I normally go through quite a lot of kitchen towel to absorb excess water and paint when I'm working. I keep this under where my brushes lie and I have now replaced this with a washable reusable microfibre cloth. I foolishly hadn't realised that microfibre is in fact also a plastic. So please do avoid this!! Now that I have these I feel it is my duty to use them till they are spent but I am frustrated that I wasn't aware of their nasty properties! A cotton towel would have been far better. Even better use some old t-shirts for this purpose. (I generally avoid synthetic materials with clothing for this reason and not sure why I left my brain behind when it came to this choice of kitchen towel replacement!)
I still use kitchen towel but a lot less and just for mopping up spills and splashes on my paper when I'm painting.
Aside from my microfibre boob, I think that my whole eco-friendliness is pretty good, after all it is a work in progress and I am sure I will add more to this blog as time goes by.
For those of you trying to avoid single use plastic, I hope that this article has been helpful for you. If you have any suggestions or recommendations for other eco-friendly products then please do comment below the article.