Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Need To Be Green

More and more you hear about people wanting to be green, green homes, green workplaces, green practices. One of the first posts I did here on So Cal Potters was about what we as ceramic artists can do to make our studios eco friendly and I have continued to scour the Internet for more information. While inherently not the most eco-friendly of the arts there are many things you can do to make a difference, to be Green Potter!
Keep Your Studio Clean! ~ Keeping your studio clean is one of the easiest things you can do to be eco friendly. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter and regular wet mopping; this will eliminate the danger of airborne silica dust. Don’t use running water, use separate buckets for clay washing and glaze washing. Many people will recycle the glaze collected in this manner; then test it to see how it looks. You never know, you just may end up with something interesting! But you will never be able to reproduce it. You can also siphon off the water from the clay bucket, strain it then use as slip.
Energy Use ~ Go Solar! You can utilize solar panels to power your studio and kiln. Many states offer subsidizes and rebates to users of solar power. If you are worried about losing power or not being able to generate enough at times if you live in a stormy area, most people who go solar remain “on grid” connected to the power grid just in case. You can also purchase carbon offsets from power companies in some areas that may help you feel better about your energy consumption. Many potters’ studios are at their homes; by not commuting to work you are not contributing to air pollution, another way we offset our carbon output. The heat generated by your kiln can also be “reused” to heat your studio and/or house in the winter
Reuse & Recycle! ~ Always recycle your clay! I know a lot of potters don’t like to, but it saves money and the environment. Keep a barrel of cast-offs and trimmings to be reclaimed later. If you want to be real anal about it use different containers for different clays. Or just throw it all in one container, wedge it up and see what you get! Bisque items that don’t fit the bill can be ground up and used to add texture to soft clay. If you have glazed pieces that come out cracked, break or you simply don’t like, collect them and offer to a mosaic artist who can turn your discards into art. Even if you don’t and discard them they aren’t toxic and therefore will not hurt the environment, bury them in the yard for someone to discover in the future!
Old Stuff ~ New Tools ~ I love going to garage sales, searching thru other peoples cast-offs for interesting pieces to use for adding textures. Try it, go to a garage sale and look at things just for that purpose. Think, “Can I make a tool out of this?” Old credit cards make great ribs. You can also cut them to make ridges etc.
The Handmade Movement ~ Promote your work as an environmental alternative. By purchasing locally made functional ware your customers are offsetting carbon emissions that it takes to ship items from across the country or overseas.
Shipping ~ Make sure that the materials you use to pack you work are all biodegradable or reused. Those pesky plastic bags from the grocery store work great for packing. Save packing materials from anything shipped to you, reuse them later to ship your products.

These are just a few of the things we can do in our everyday life in the studio to be eco friendly. If you have any thoughts or ideas, please share them! Look for "The Green Potter" logo, I will be placing it in one of the outside columns to post new eco-tips!

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1 comment:

Eco Friendly said...

Great blog post, great information on how to become a "green potter". I really enjoyed the points you touched on. Thanks!!