Balancing The Green in Your Crafty Business

green thread

Like many of you out there, I run a crafty business. I don’t know about you guys, but it feels from time to time like I have to weigh my green ideals against needing to make a profit so that I can keep the lights on!

Karen talked not too long ago about the philosophical side of green crafting, and it sort of jump-started my thinking about my own crafting practices and my business. Sure, I do my best to be eco-friendly, but where can I improve things?

I’m all about baby steps and not beating yourself up about what you’re not doing. Living an eco-friendly lifestyle is all about the choices you make. I think you should give yourself high fives for what you are doing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to look at your choices and see where you can improve things, right? Right!

I’m going to talk a little bit about my own business, and where I’m doing well and where I am still sorting things out in the green department. I encourage you guys to take a look at your processes and do the same! It’s not about feeling guilty; it’s just about growing. From time to time, it’s great to take an honest look at what you’re doing and see how you can do even better!

The Good

With certain aspects of my business, I have this eco-friendly thing down. Here are a few of the things that I feel like I’m getting right:

  • Finding green fabric options is a no-brainer.
  • With a little bit of planning, it’s not so tricky to create your display using reclaimed materials.
  • For promotional materials, I’ve been able to find several good green printers, and when I print at home I always use FSC-certified paper.
  • I do small things to be more energy efficient, like sewing in big batches rather than heating up that iron multiple times for one-offs. I also try to get as much done during the day as possible, so that I can work by daylight in my studio instead of hitting the lamps.

The Less Good

The trouble comes in, at least for me, when I’m trying to make things uniform or churn out a ton of product, like for a big craft market. Sometimes, for the sake of uniformity, I do use new materials, and for some of them I haven’t been able to come up with an eco-friendly option that also allows me to keep my costs down. Here are a couple of examples of those:

  • My aprons have ric rac on the waist. I haven’t been able to find a supplier that stocks enough quantity and selection of jumbo, vintage ric rac to keep me stocked when I’m cranking out product for craft show season. The rest of the materials in my aprons are reclaimed or recycled.
  • I recently started selling prints of some of my designs. They’re printed on vintage fabric using water-based inks, but the frames come from Ikea (though I tell myself that they use FSC-certified wood for them, at least?). Yes, I could thrift frames, but again it becomes a question of volume and uniformity. What if the thrift store is out of frames or I can’t find the sizes I need? I could also use eco-friendly store-bought frames, but those are very pricey unless you’re doing tiny prints, and I just don’t think customers would pay the extra cash for that.

I’d be hard-pressed to think of any crafty business that’s 100% eco-friendly, and I think that all we can do as business owners is try our best and be honest with ourselves about areas that we’d like to improve over time. I’d love to hear from some of the other crafty biz owners out there! What do you think you’re getting right, and where could your business use a little bit of an eco-boost?

Oh! And if anyone’s seen recycled jumbo ric-rac for sale, I am on the hunt!

[Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by biscarotte]

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