Craftivism Craftivism: How Craft Supplies Impact Human Rights

Published on October 16th, 2013 | by Becky Striepe

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Craftivism: Talking Human Rights for Blog Action Day

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Craftivism: How Craft Supplies Impact Human Rights

Craftivism is about more than using your crafts to make a difference. Let’s take a look at the link between craft supplies and human rights.

Today is Blog Action Day! All over the world today, writers in all sorts of different genres are talking about a single topic from their points of view. This year’s Blog Action Day topic is human rights, and I think this topic just ties so beautifully into the craftivism that we’ve been talking more about around here over the past couple of months.

What do crafts have to do with human rights? Quite a bit, actually! Making things from scratch is often a lot greener than buying from a big box store, but the craft supplies that we choose have more than just an environmental impact. At every step of creating a craft supply, there are people that are impacted, and it’s so important to think about those impacts when we choose our craft supplies.

Craftivism and Human Rights: How we shop matters.

Fabric is my medium of choice, and that’s the are where I’m most educated about the supply chain. Fabric production is also a great example of how choosing our craft supplies can impact human rights for people living all over the world. Here are a couple of instances to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

1. Conventional Cotton

Conventional – aka: non-organic and non-recycled – cotton is basically soaked in blood. A very large percentage of the conventional cotton on the market is genetically engineered, so when you buy conventional cotton, you’re giving your money to Monsanto. Read more here on how Monsanto’s cotton is linked to Indian farmers committing suicide at an alarming rate.

Cotton farming also uses a large amount of pesticides which pollute the water and air and are bad for farm workers’s health. I go into a little more detail here on the environmental and social impacts of conventional cotton.

The good news is that you have lots of other options! When you choose organic cotton, hemp, linen, or vintage fabrics, you’re voting for human rights by either opting out of these devastating marketing and farming practices, supporting sustainable practices that are good for the people and the planet, or both!

2. Choosing Eco-Friendly Fabric Dyes

If you’ve ever dyed your own fabric, you know that the fabric doesn’t soak in all of the dye that you use. Some of that dye washes down the drain. Now imagine that on an industrial scale and how that impacts water quality in the areas where these factories exist.

Industrial fabric dye facilities can be terrible for water quality, and that violates the human right to clean water in areas where factories dispose of that polluted dye water improperly. China’s Pearl River is one example of how fabric dyeing is polluting water and harming the population.

You can read more about dye pollution in the Pearl River and why choosing low-impact dyes are important here!

Human Rights: How do your supplies impact people and the planet?

There is a supply chain behind every craft supply we buy, no matter what it is, and I think it’s important that we as ethical crafters educate ourselves about where our craft supplies come from.

Did that paper product come at the expense of virgin forests and people who rely on that ecosystem for food? Where did the metals in your jewelry supply stash come from? Are they conflict minerals? Did the mining pollute the drinking water in the areas where they are sourced?

I think that asking these tough questions is at the heart of craftivism and of what we are about here at Crafting a Green World.  What kind of crafts do you like to do? I’d love to hear about where you’re finding ethical supplies that take people into account!

Image Credit: Paper Dolls photo via Shutterstock

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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



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