Last night it was The Creative Project Devon’s June meet up. I was lucky enough to give a showcase talk about how I reduce waste in my design work. I should mention this was after a fab talk by the Exeter Scrapstore, who filled me with joy that I can become a member and get some materials for me to enjoy with my toddler at home.
I also provided the raffle prize, which was a Reloved 52 Imagination Parcel. These will be sold in my etsy shop in the near future and are aimed at creative people. Inside the parcel is a selection of materials with no instructions and a card explaining that the materials can be used anyway you choose and that there are no rules! When they’re ready for general sale I’ll provide a link, but for now here’s a photo of what it looked like:
The wider ethos of Reloved 52 is to keep stuff out of the landfill and give objects new life, so cutting down on waste and unecessary spending is very important when I’m designing.
In order to prepare for this talk I had to sit down and think carefully about how I achieve this and what processes I use. Having not previously thought about this, I found it very eye opening to write it down on paper.
What I realised is that I ask myself questions when I find I’ve got materials left over. How I organise those materials is absolutely key to my work as a designer.
I prepared a handout to go with my talk and I thought I would share it here on the blog too, as it might be handy for some of you lovely creative folks out there.
This is the Reloved 52 guide for creative people on how to cut down waste:
Reloved 52 – How to reduce and reuse your wastage.
I know that the word thrifty is not terribly popular these days but essentially this is my guide on how to get thrifty. It’s good for your business and the planet to cut down on wastage and find ways of making other products to be more profitable. This works for small independent businesses as well as your home life. If you’re anything like me then often you are juggling both anyway!
How to get started – these are the questions I ask myself when I find I’ve got wastage or excess materials from a project
- What materials can I reuse for home or business purpose?
- If I can’t reuse them can I recycle them?
- If I can’t recycle them can I upcycle them for a different use or project?
- Can they be stored for later if I can’t think of a use for them straight away?
- Is there anybody else who could use the scraps if I can’t?
- Sort into different sizes for easy access later on (especially with fabrics!)
What materials do you most commonly work with? Can you find a new purpose for your wastage?
Give yourself a challenge – make a project without any new materials – only stuff you already have. This is a great way to use up old things and flex your creative muscle. I try and do at least one thing every day that uses something up. It doesn’t have to be a big project.
Here are ten recent projects I’ve done lately to use up old stuff & keep my spending down:
- I used an old suitcase I had as teddy storage for my toddler daughter.
- I made a play kitchen out of an old side table, some yellow paint and some chalkboard paint.
- I used some old lace to make a new necklace.
- I made some fun art prints of animals out of excess handmade paper.
- I went through my wardrobe and am currently halfway through a huge mending pile – some clothes may be upcycled if I can’t fix them!
- I cut off the legs to my old maternity jeans and turned them into fabric boxes.
- I made floor cushions out of jungle fabric and used the leftovers to make matching toy hammocks for (yup you guessed it) more soft toys.
- I planted my seasonal herb garden in otherwise unused household goods (a broken handled teapot, bamboo noodle bowl etc)
- I needed new craft drawers so instead of buying them I painted an old small set of drawers I already had in a grey colour– actually I had two sets, the other one I painted in bright colours for my toddlers room.
- I used old vintage buttons from my collection to make beautiful rings.
Push yourself to come up with new uses for old things and soon it’ll become second nature. In fact you may have to stop yourself eyeing things up before they’ve outlived the original purpose!
Reloved 52 originally started as a blog to cut down spending on unnecessary items. These are the things I now ask myself before buying anything new.
- Do I really need it?
- Can I make it instead?
- Can I trade with a friend?
- Can I buy it in good condition second hand?
- Can I buy it from a local indie or from fairtrade?
- Can I afford it now, can I wait for a sale?
When I first started this process I found I would stop at the first question because I didn’t really need whatever it was. As the years roll by though, I find I naturally don’t want things I don’t need because I’ve trained myself to think differently about stuff.
Question your purchases, Question your rubbish bin!