Practicing Art Sustainably and Ethically: A Green Guide

By 23rd April 2022 Creative Practice, Musings

I wrote this post with the intention of writing this one, which offers a little context to my commitment to myself to practice as an artist ethically and sustainably.

At risk of being accused of virtue signalling or greenwashing (as I am by no means perfect), publishing my own sustainable practices holds me more accountable. I have been adhering to my own ‘environmental policy’ since 2018 but it’s good to remind myself and add to the list. It’s not perfect, some of it is obvious, and I realise we can’t always be sure if our banks or suppliers are genuine or not… but I believe it’s important that we do our best with the information, resources and funds we have available to us. A fair bit of thought and research went into compiling this guide for myself but by sharing freely, I hope it offers a basis for those who also wish to practice more ethically and sustainable too. A manifesto, if you would.

 

Operations

  • Being conscious of water and energy usage in life, when making or within partnered premises
  • Any furniture, fixtures and equipment are pre-loved where available and appropriate. Choose rechargable items where appropriate and available.
  • Keeping literature and communications efforts digital (if appropriate). However, if print is necessary, using recycled or FSA-approved options that are easily recycled.
  • Reusing, repurposing or recycling as much ‘business waste’ as possible
  • Walking and public transport as preferred methods of transportation locally and nationally
  • If you must travel internationally, travel by land and sea on public transport
  • Committing to minimal, plastic-free postage and packaging using recycled or FSA-approved options (where available)
  • For events, rent equipment (e.g. sound systems, glasses etc) and use a local caterer for vegetarian/vegan sustainance
  • Donate or sell equipment or materials that are no longer needed
  • Work from home and/or utilise video-calls where appropriate
  • Translate any other eco-lifestyle practices to business

 

Making

  • Using existing, found, recycled, repurposed, natural and/or biodegradable materials through the entire making process, from sketchbooks to final works.
  • If work requires new materials, set a limit (e.g. no more than 25% new materials) and prioritise new materials to be the most used/essential to the least used/essential.
  • Use non-toxic materials (you can always ask suppliers for material data safety sheets)
  • Using unbleached or chlorine-free (ECF/TCF) papers and canvases
  • Using refillable or reusable stationary equipment instead of single-use ones, where available and appropriate.
  • Choosing vegan, plastic-free brushes and other tools
  • Using eco-friendly and/or natural colours and solvents
  • Using low-waste, non-toxic and low energy production methods where possible
  • Disposing of materials responsibly
  • Use rainwater for washing brushes (where possible)
  • Frugality in squeezing out paints and pigments
  • Avoid glitter!
  • Rent or borrow short-term use equipment or tools instead of buying
  • Any digital equipment purchased should be chosen for its repairability, and ability for hardware component upgrades
  • Design for ‘circular’ use
  • Build for disassembly (e.g. use screws instead of nails)
  • Shift funding from new materials to labour and transport (for sustainable sourcing/reclaiming)

 

Doing business with others

  • Using an energy company (at home, or on creative premises I manage) that provides 100% sustainable energy (who ideally also invests in and supports local communities)
  • Personal and business banking with an ethical bank
  • Paper-free banking and tax filing
  • Sustainable procurement: outsourcing/contracting/purchasing/specialist service/product preferences will be given to other ethical business (local, where possible)
  • Using cycle couriers, where appropriate
  • Using a green web-hosting provider

 

Other

  • A sharing of intellectual resources means energy is not spent generating the same knowledge

 

Do you have any more suggestions? Leave them in the comments!

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