This is the first of a planned series of blog posts related to our sustainability series given at our general meetings with the goal of building a guild wide conversation about this topic.
Just what is sustainability anyway? Definitionally, it is the ability to be sustained, supported, upheld and confirmed. When we consider the sustainability of textile creation and use, we can consider factors like materials, economics, energy and water use, and livelihood.
The “R”s of Sustainability: Rethink, Research, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle, Rot
The guild is committed to increasing the sustainability of our work wherever possible. The Rs are a helpful framework for improvement.
To increase the sustainability of fibre art, we artists should give a second thought to several aspects of our craft. Some questions to consider for your next project include:
How are my chosen fibres and dyes produced? What are the environmental consequences of the process for animals and ecosystems (soil, air, water)?
Where are my materials produced? Both geographically and within the supply chain?
Whose labour is involved in the chain of production?
What becomes of a product after its intended use is finished?
Answering these questions requires research. Consult the many resources available within our guild library or at the local library. Search for information from reputable websites, like the Sierra Club for example. Ask these questions of suppliers, retailers, and colleagues.
Speak with your dollars. Say no to processes and products whose consequences are not of a satisfactory level of sustainability.
Consider the quantity of materials you purchase and the amounts of waste materials that certain techniques might create. By planning material use carefully, you can immediately make your work more sustainable.
Wherever possible, prioritize durable art forms. Approach the reuse and repurposing of materials as a creative challenge in its own right. Can you give your waste and tired creations new life?
Traditional practices of darning and needle-felting are still an effective means of reducing waste. Of course, as textile and fibre artists, we can certainly find enjoyment in these tasks.