Happy Earth Day

happy earth day paperbacklife

Happy Earth Day!

at paperbacklife, I try to live by the Earth Day mantra of Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, every day. 
I also love & try to live by the Maya Angelou quote 'Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better.'
Earth Day seems like a good time to {not so} quickly explain how I try to work these mantras into my work/business/life, everyday.

First let's address a favorite from my childhood Earth Days at school when blue bins for recycling were still newish ideas, and we had a dump in the center of the city (it's now land with mostly car dealerships on it): Reduce, Recycle, Reuse.  Turns out my old fav, while well intentioned, is a little out of order.  It should be: Reduce/Reuse/Recycle.  How could that little change possibly matter? Let me explain:
First you reduce all waste options possible: use your own bags, choose compostable or recyclable materials, etc.  Reduce all options or areas where there could be waste.  Then when you can't reduce any more, you reuse. And reuse, and reuse.  Reuse whatever it is you've got until it can't be reused anymore (you can only rewash plastic bread bags so many times before they get holes).  Then, once the reusing is done, or the can't be done, you recycle it. You turn it into something new, or bring it to someone who can turn it into something new.  Can't recycle it? Then start the process again, reduce, reuse, recycle.  Either you or somebody else can reduce the thing down to it's base parts, reuse what bits can be reused, recycle the rest.  Repeat until the end of time. IF you Recycle before you Reuse, you won't get the full life out of the object before it is reduced to parts.  And sometimes, recycling processes can cause waste.  If you recycle a thing before it has been completely used/reused, then you could be creating waste sooner than necessary.  It may seem like a small thing to focus on, but if Earth Day teaches us anything, it's that the small things will eventually add up to a big thing.  
So now that we know better about this little change, to reuse before I recycle, how am I trying to do better? How does Reduce/Reuse/Recycle apply to my work?  Or you, as a customer? And why does it matter? It's all pretty easy, actually.

Reduce: I want to buy products with little waste, so therefore I should create products with little waste.  I've been making some design changes over the years that you probably haven't even noticed, which is a good thing in my mind.  These changes have eliminated the need for things like little metal eyelets on garlands and plastic, metal or otherwise not recyclable embellishments.  Not using these materials on my products means you won't have to dissect anything to recycle them into their proper waste/recycle bins when you are done with them.  A little (okay, a lot) of effort on my part simply means a new product design for you, but a whole lot less waste.  Also, by switching packaging to paper bags and cardboard boxes, both of which are both reusable and recyclable, there is specifically a whole lot less plastic waste.  I still use a little bit of plastic on some items, mostly for weather protection while shipping things long distance by snail mail.  But rest assured, none of this is new plastic.  I'm still using up plastic sleeves that I collected over the years from retailers who saved them for just this purpose.  

Reuse:  This is a bit harder to apply to an art practice, but I still try every day.  I take old designs and testers that didn't work and make new art with them. Sometimes I use my mis-cuts or paper scraps for grocery lists, thank you notes or mailing labels for orders.  My products are even assembled in ways so that you can reuse bits of them when you are through; like the hemp on gift tags not having knots so they can be easily removed if you like to reuse a good bit of twine.  Packaging is easily reused to store your decor when not being used, or for packaging/shipping/storing your own little things.

And last, but not least, Recycle:  When I can't reduce or reuse something in my work, I recycle it.  Working with mostly paper helps, since it means most of the stuff I won't or can't save to reuse can usually just be added to our weekly blue bag pick up, or as fire starter during camping season.  And if I can't recycle it, the kids will definitely find a way to use it in an art project.  As a customer, you can rest easy knowing the majority of my finished products can be recycled when you are done with them as well; although who would want to get rid of these cute things?

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published