What Have Crafts to Do With Zero-Waste? Introducing Our New Directory (Online Soon)

We are planning some big changes to the blog in the next few months. We have already started to create a directory of all the artists/artisans who feature in our magazine. Another change will be that we will create a zero-waste shop directory on this blog.

The “zero-waste movement” is an exciting network of organisations, bloggers and individuals who are actively seeking to reduce the amount of waste, especially plastic, that goes to the landfill (and to recycling). There are some high profile bloggers and outstanding examples such as Bea Johnson of the Zero Waste Home (www.zerowastehome.com) who with her motto “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (and only in that order)” have really inspired thousands to turn to zero waste as a philosophy of practice. This is done by buying less and making more conscious purchases, for example:

  • Choosing to buy items that will last a lifetime instead of disposables
  • Avoiding as much as possible to buy groceries packed in plastic (by buying bulk, lose items or visiting farmers markets instead of supermarkets).
  • Looking for everyday items made with more sustainable materials (bamboo toothbrush, metal/glass straws are typical examples)
  • Composting, making your own, growing your own or doing without

How is this connected to crafts?

Working towards a more zero-waste lifestyle involves a lot of problem solving, which includes supporting small businesses who take environmental sustainability to a seriously higher level and artisans who make the alternatives we can’t make ourselves. The other obvious option is to learn to make things, the typical example would be making some mesh bags for everyday shopping by upcycling old curtains and clothes.

We will start filling up our new directory from next week, which will be organised by product, starting from the most common everyday items with a clear indication of the shop location so you can buy local. We’ll add some tutorials when we find them.

We want to encourage grassroots everyday crafts that make us think critically about our present lifestyle and that inspire us to look at our heritage, which is often closer to nature. Crafts are not just a ‘hobby’. If you think about it, now we are used to seeing industrial disposable plastic containers for tomatoes or cucumbers individually wrapped in plastic, but the idea of a food “container” used to be the work of the crafter: weaving bags or baskets, making ceramics and glass, without forgetting the art of metal working.

Choosing one material over another has always its pros and cons (it is a complex issue) for example, the cotton-making process consumes a lot of water and the transport of glass and metal consumes more energy. And without a doubt plastic, especially in packaging, has also its benefit especially for hygienic and medical reasons. But at the same time, the environmental cost (as the video below shows) is so high that it is about time we collectively worked towards alternatives that will turn our plastic consumption to a minimum.

It is a complex, globalised, messy world where we don’t have all the answers (who has?) All we can do is make small everyday changes and campaign to make environmental problem solving, and not profit, a top priority for corporations and governments. Here is a video from the Plastic Pollution Coalition about plastics in the ocean and practical ways to reduce consumption.


The latest issue of the print magazine packed with interviews and features on eco and heritage artists and artisans is available now.

You can talk to No Serial Number Magazine too. Join our Twitter conversation (#noserialnumber) as we talk to eco-artisans and designers changing the way we think about our lifestyle choices. You can also share your views and keep up to date with our latest articles by joining the newsletter or following us on Facebook.

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