A Green Crafting Manifesto

Author's photograph of a sign in the Indianapolis Children's MuseumDo you have a manifesto? I mean, do you have a clear, guiding philosophy through which you can mediate between your sometimes competing identities as an environmentally conscious person and as a person who thinks crafting up cool stuff is awesome?

I’ll tell you–a manifesto helps, because sometimes environmentalism and crafting don’t play well together without forethought. For instance, do you prefer wool felt, which comes from animals, or acrylic felt, which is synthetic? How big is that fabric/yarn/bead stash, all consisting of items you bought brand-new and are now just sitting on? Do you think it’s okay to craft with vinyl or not? It’s important to think through the environmental/ethical issues behind how you like to craft, so that whatever you do, you are working in harmony with your beliefs.Here’s my manifesto:

  1. I create as an alternative to a mass-produced, consumer culture. Whenever possible, I do not buy–I make.
  2. I create through a mindset of reducing wastefulness and honoring our culture’s material goods. Whenever possible, I use recycled materials and others’ discarded objects in my projects.
  3. I create while remaining mindful of our current environmental needs. Whenever possible, I use materials that are non-toxic and have been ethically produced.
  4. I create while being respectful of the time my partner and I spend earning our money. Whenever possible, I do not buy expensive crafting supplies.
  5. I create in collaboration with my daughters, to teach them my values and share with them the joy and indepence in making. Whenever possible, I include my children in all my work.

I enjoy trying new projects and I get way too many Joann’s coupons, so my manifesto helps me work from my belief system without having to rethink my entire worldview every time I’m standing in front of a ceiling-high display of Fimo clay marked at 40%-off.

Do you find that your work reflects a particular craft ethic? What’s your manifesto?

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Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life, and my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties.


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  1. I so cannot wait to see everybody’s manifestos.

    An example of the manifesto in action:
    A couple of weeks ago, I wanted to buy my girls some of those temporary tattoos that read, “If I’m lost, call____”. But my manifesto reads that whenever possible, I try to make, not buy, so I did a quick google search to see if you can make your own temporary tattoos, and you can!

    A couple of pages of water-slide decal paper later, and my babies are tatted up with my phone number in case they get lost, their favorite picture book illustrations, WordArts of their names, and some of their own original artwork. And yeah, Momma now has quite a collection of custom-made Buffy the Vampire Slayer tattoos.

  2. So true! The urge (obsession?) to buy more and more craft supplies can be at odds with environmental priorities. I try to be mindful with my purchases and only buy things I need but it can be challenging! A manifesto is a great idea!

  3. Yes, the hoarding of the stash is one of the things that I find most troubling about crafting, although I’m way guilty of it, too. I don’t like the mindset it implies, or the lack of respect for the stuff that it’s taken money, energy, and people to produce, or the lack of respect for the time we have to spend earning the money to pay for it.

    I know one crafter who has a practice to finish two older projects for every one new project she wants to start, and another crafter who tags her fabric and if she doesn’t use it within one year, she donates it to another person or organization who can use it.

    Unfortunately, my plan to use up all my stash revolves entirely around the creation of a machine that could stop time for a week. Okay, maybe two weeks.

  4. I just realized that I have another guiding point:

    6. I create without exploitation of the world’s creatures. Whenever possible, I do not use materials that come from animals, unless these materials are organic or second-hand.

    The manifesto continually evolves.

  5. Late comment i know, I only use reused materials in crafts – eg materials that are waste products of my own activities (eg waste packaging materials) or things I buy second hand or natural materials, including shed rabbit fur, which makes a beautiful felt or a good Easter card shepp motif…

  6. I especially like that idea of the reuse of animal products, like shed rabbit fur. It’s a really gentle way to incorporate an animal material into your work.

    I tried felting organic wool roving for the very first time yesterday. I agitated and agitated and agitated, and just could not figure out why my wool wasn’t felting. Then I read the label again, and I was all, “Hmm, I wonder what superwash means?”

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