Heidi Reimer Epp CEO of Botanical PaperWorks

Tips For Making Your Hobbies More Eco-friendly

CEO and knitting enthusiast, Heidi Reimer-Epp shares some tips for reducing waste and making your hobbies more earth-friendly

Hello everyone, I’m happy to be writing today about my philosophy of being a responsible crafter. By ‘responsible’, I don’t mean wearing my seatbelt when driving to Michaels or putting my crafting supplies away when I’m done. 🙂 I mean integrating my eco-values into my hobbies and thinking about how to be a responsible citizen of our planet even when I’m doing my favorite craft.

Make hobbies like knitting more eco-friendly with these responsible crafting tips.If you follow my Instagram account, you know I’m seriously obsessed with knitting. In my free time, you will most likely find me with knitting needles in my hands and a colorful project underway. And it didn’t just start recently – I’ve always been an enthusiastic crafter. In my teens, I made jewelry from clay, took classes in drawing, did calligraphy and color pencil, and made my own cards and wrapping paper.

Those early years were all about paper crafting and my Mom and I started Botanical PaperWorks out of a love of paper AND the desire to do something recycled with discarded paper. You can read the whole story here, but the short version is that we figured out how to take waste paper and turn it into beautiful sheets of handmade paper. Botanical PaperWorks was born, and here we are today, making seed paper for individuals and companies around the world who are making good choices for the environment.

The eco-drive runs deep with me and it’s only natural now that I’m into fiber crafts, I want to bring the same principles of reducing, reusing, and recycling to my knitting. I’m happy today to share my five tips for being a responsible crafter using examples from my experience of knitting. The same principles also apply to other hobbies such as scrapbooking, card-making, weaving, macrame and any other craft.

Find out how you can become a more responsible crafter with these eco-friendly hobby tips.

Buy what you’re going to use

In the crafting world, we joke about our stashes of consumables and tools. Some people have converted closets or entire rooms to store their stuff. But one principle of being a responsible crafter is to be moderate with how much you buy. I try to buy only what I’m going to use by having a practice of buying for a specific project, not just because I love the yarn. As a result, I don’t have a huge stash of unused items. Not to say that I’m perfect – there’s that double-thick cotton yarn that I bought on a whim with the plan to crochet into a basket, except I don’t know how to crochet! And I’ve made a few buying mistakes. Recently I ordered yarn online for a Cowichan-style sweater and the yarn arrived in a burnt orange. I was expecting cranberry red and had to rebuy those three skeins.

Give away what you don’t need

When an impulse buy sits in my drawer for months unused or that burnt orange is just never going to be used, I give the surplus yarn (and the ends of skeins from completed projects) to charity. In all of our cities, there are great places that make art supplies available to schools and charities. In Winnipeg, we can donate art supplies to Arts Junktion and yarn to school knitting programs. I encourage you to put your unwanted supplies and tools to use. These charities are grateful for donations and personally, I feel lighter getting that stuff out of my house and into the hands of people who can put it to good use.

Choose supplies that are better for environment

In the world of crafting, there are supplies that are better for the environment and supplies that are worse for the environment. For knitting, better means choosing a natural wool over an acrylic yarn. Acrylic is a plastic, petroleum-based yarn and it doesn’t break down in the landfill so as much as possible, I try to select yarns that are wool. When choosing wool, there are some extra-eco options like the green one from We Are Knitters made with off-cuts and leftovers. And there are the natural, non-dyed yarns from Knit Picks that don’t put dye water into the water system.

Use up your bits in other projects

One cool use for the cuttings and yarn odds and ends is to use them in weaving. With bits from scrapbooking, you can make mixed-media collages. Magazine pages can be used to make cool roll-up beads. Scrap bits can be used in mixed-media collages. Using up the odds and ends in another craft is a great eco-crafting practice.

Make things you’re going to use or that you can gift and be used

If I knit something that no one wants or it feels itchy or it’s misshapen, it’s not going to get worn. And that’s wasteful. So I choose yarn that I really like and patterns that I really love so that when I make something, I know I’ll want to wear it. I don’t want to be producing more stuff; I want it to be useable and wearable. When I can, I pay a little more for the nice sock yarn that feels good on the feet, because then the lucky recipient will wear it and love it. My handmade socks are coveted!

Enjoying the process of crafting

One final tip is more about living a good life than doing good for the environment. I want to encourage everyone who does crafts to relax, take the pressure off themselves and enjoy the act of making. This is a peaceful approach to crafting. It’s not making for the sake of being done. It’s about enjoying the process, enjoying the crafting journey. I’m lucky that I live in a time when I don’t need to knit to clothe my family. No one depends on me for a new sweater or socks for winter. I can savor the project and take the time to choose the project, choose the yarn, and enjoy the knitting.

I hope that these tips spark some thinking on how to make your crafts more eco-friendly and better for the environment.

Happy crafting! 

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