The eco-advantages of crafts

by EcoStreet on August 5, 2008

in EcoArt

This is a guest post by Elaine Dutton of Pure Design, a social enterprise and online eco-design gallery. Her mission is to promote sustainable design and designers in the UK by providing a platform from which designers can show and sell their work, and encourages exchange of eco-design knowledge between established and emerging eco-design talent.


Nearly all of us have an object at home whose sentimental value far outweighs its worth in cold hard cash. And despite what some may say, savouring your precious object doesn’t make you Gollum from Lord of the Rings! I think it is a really valuable characteristic; one that will help us all to make the most of what we have, and keep it that way for the future.

Most of us are already questioning how our lifestyle impacts on the planet; in particular our consumption of resources such as fossil fuels, food, clothing and household goods. I propose that one of the best ways to reduce our rate of consumption (particularly of personal and household goods) is to invest in objects of quality that last, that we can keep, and that we can share with others.

Having worked in the craft sector for 4 years now, opening Pure Design, an eco-design gallery earlier this year, I regularly visit craft fairs to scout for new eco-design talent. This week I met Amy, a maker who has set up an alternative luxury knitwear brand called ‘Keep & Share’. Her mission is to create a sustainable ‘slow fashion’ label, which seeks to reverse the effects of throwaway fashion by creating ‘best friend’ pieces that will transcend short-lived trends and age gracefully. I thought this was right on the money.

And the great news is, there are many more makers and designers who have a very similar outlook to Amy. Susiemaroon, a Scottish eco-designer takes leather otherwise destined for landfill and creates chic floor hides and cushions. An Alleweireldt from Oxx uses old floppy disks, vinyl records and lollipops she has hoarded over the years to create cutting edge jewellery. What many describe as a labour of love (41% of UK makers earned less than £10,000 in 2002) drives these artists to create unique and beautiful pieces of design that we can buy and admire every day. Craft also satiates our desire to collect, with individual pieces acting as souvenirs or memories of a person, place or time.

AND as craft is small scale production, designers are able to keep tabs on exactly what goes into their ‘product’. They can source greener, sustainable materials, often using locally sourced, found or reclaimed materials. They can control production techniques, using non-toxic dyes and chemicals. And with so many artists working from home – they can keep their own carbon footprint right down. Weaver, Angela Morley talks about her passion for nature and natural materials in BBC’s Made in England.

With these positive eco aspects to craft, and not forgetting the fact that craft can suit all budgets, shouldn’t we all take a little more time to measure the true worth of products before we pay out? And with all the economists telling us we need to watch our spending, I think craft for keeps could be a very sound investment…

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