Let’s be Eco Warriors!
So, a couple of weeks ago, after a bit of a strongly worded conversation with Alex about who got to use the car that I pay for (which I lost so he could get to a brass band thing he signed up for AFTER I’d already been booked…) I had to get the train to a gig. Yes, I’m serious, but I’m still gonna marry the bastard. Not that I’m still annoyed about it. At all. I’m not going to lie, it was an absolute faff, but admittedly a lot less faff now that I have my Craft ’n’ Go, although I was still out the house for 9 hours for a 3 hour job. Really not still annoyed. But it did get me thinking about the environment and what steps we can take to do our bit in an industry that heavily depends on single use plastics and non recyclables. For the WBF in Austria last year, I made my headpiece entirely out of single use plastics I had collected in the 4 day run up to the competition, I couldn’t believe how much I collected, and I didn’t even use half of it! It makes me feel a bit sick thinking just how much waste we get through, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to discuss some ways we can each do our bit to help! If you’ve got any suggestions that I’ve missed off please comment below!
Let’s start with a biggie. I don’t know if the manufacturers are making any sorts of plans to package paint more sustainably but there are a couple of things we can do in the meantime. Until recently my council didn’t recycle any plastics at all, but now they collect all plastics. What they do with them and wether any of it still goes to landfill once they’ve sorted through it I have no idea. But if your council doesn’t take all types of plastics in recycling, you can save your pots up and go to your local recycling place where they’ll generally have a plastic recycling tip. Rosemary also suggested using empty paint pots for glitter gels as there is less space for air than in the dip pots. I know some people also use they’re left over pots to make confetti cakes and split cakes, but I know that can be a bit of an insurance grey area.
I know I know, we all love glitter, we are all a little bit guilty of this one and we all know how bad glitter is for the environment (did you know that it’s actually considered a micro plastic?) so I won’t talk about glitter for very long, and some venues actually have a bio only policy. There are gorgeous bio degradable glitters available, and something we can take a little responsibility for is ‘aftercare’ advice. A lot of the time, people will just wash the glitter off their face along with their paint, but what we can do is ask them to remove as much glitter as they can with sellotape and put it in the bin. As much as it is still going to end up in landfill, personally I would rather plastics end up in landfill than affecting our sea life. They have actually found plastic particles in the fish that ends up on your plates. Just something to think about.
Hands up who hates admin?! Met too! But got to be done right? There are a couple of things we can do here. I don’t print off invoices, booking forms, contracts etc, I do everything on my laptop and I have an external hard drive so at the end of the tax year, everything gets transferred off my laptop and onto that instead. However I did realise that I send my clients a booking form as a pdf and require them to print it off and sign with any amendments. This is because I didn’t want to send them a word document that they could edit and then not notice when they had changed things. However I have had a couple of digital contracts sent through to me, no printing required, and I know you can digitally sign for things now (isn’t technology great?!) So this is definitely something I’m going to investigate more. Also on the technology line, we all use devices as part of our business right? When they come to the end of their life, take them in to get a part exchange! I got about £150 off my new phone by returning my previous one, and the parts all get reused, saves you money and reduces waste!
While we’re on the subject of technology, has anyone got their own QR code? You can get QR codes that will send someone straight to your website or social media page, and you can change where the code sends people even after it’s been produced! It also establishes an immediate connection with your potential client. How many times have you given out a business card only to never hear back from someone? And how expensive are business cards?! I recently did a wedding fair and printed out my information and price list on nice photographic paper, but only one copy. I then painted up a little sign asking people to take a photo of the information rather than taking it away, and people were really keen on the idea! It also meant that I could tell people I was making an effort to be environmentally friendly, plus it saved me so much time and money! It also meant that they didn’t have yet another bit of rubbish that they were never going to look at again. Make real connections with people and exchange contact information. Follow up as soon as you can, and it will both be better for your business and save you in printing costs. If you do decide to print, have a look at using recycled paper!
We all love our brushes, and we can love our brushes and take really good care of them, but sometimes there is no stopping our brushes from getting to a point that they just won’t give you that gorgeously crisp linework any more. But don’t send your brushes to the grave yard just yet! Turn them into SFX brushes! Or cleaning brushes! I’ve got an old dead brush that I use to help me get into every nook and cranny of my airbrush, and that brush that might not be so good for perfect tear drops any more, might be great to give you a wash of colour with your alcohol palette or to put some blood in a scratch.
According to the UK government, transport is responsible for 25% of uk emissions. 25%! I’m not going to lie, getting the train with my Craft ’n’ Go, Directors Chair, Design board and back pack was not the easiest of journeys, but I did it. It’s not going to be the most practical thing to do for a birthday party, but if your doing an all day event in town and you happen to live near a train station, would you consider it? Or car sharing if you and another local artist are going to the same job? It can be quite easy to say only take work within a certain radius of where you live, but that’s also not always possible. I try not to do events that are too far away, but sometimes the opportunity is just too good to pass up!
I actually very rarely use baby wipes any more in face painting or my own life. I used to use them all the time for taking my makeup off, cleaning my paints and to have on hand for kids with messy faces. But they’re a) really bad for the environment and b) they can be quite harsh on your skin. A few years ago the pink makeup eraser started floating around on the internet and I just didn’t see how a cloth could get rid of all your makeup. I then started to come across more eco cloths last year and decided to do a bit of research into them and buy one. The difference between these eco cloths and a normal flannel for example is that the fibres in the eco cloths are knitted much tighter together and they actually lift makeup out of the pores and also act as a very gentle exfoliant. I am a complete convert! They get rid of the most stubborn gel eye liners, they great for getting rid of paint AND I tested it against alcohol based paint and it worked! I’m starting to build up the number of eco cloths I have in my kit so I can completely replace baby wipes. Because paints contain anti bacterial properties it can actually not be so great to clean them with baby wipes, so what I do to clean mine now is use a damp sponge. You could use your eco cloths to clean paints but they take in a lot more water than sponges and might eat into your paint too much!
Tupperware and Travel Mugs
How many ppf’s have you done where it’s really quiet, really cold and all you need in your life is a cup of tea? Most of the time we work over a lunch time too, and of course we want to support the other vendors (who often give trader discounts too) and sometimes we do bring our own pre made lunches with us. But what about bringing Tupperware to have your lunch put into if you are going to buy from a vendor? And what about bring a thermos or travel mug? It also means you can take a cup of tea for the road, rather than wasting not so recyclable coffee cups and and food packaging!
Vegan, Cruelty Free and ingredients
Every now and again I see posts on facebook with people asking about cruelty free pants due to a request from a client. This can be quite tricky. Cruelty free doesn’t always mean vegan, and one of the main culprit in paints and cosmetics that aren’t vegan is Carmine, a pigment made from crushed insects. Yummy. Cruelty free and vegan also doesn’t mean that a product doesn’t contain palm oil. That stuff is in everything, including a lot of lipsticks, and can be really cleverly hidden in ingredients lists under different names, including in some cases it can be labelled as vegetable oil. There are different regulations with regards to labelling depending on where in the world you are. It’s an absolute minefield when you start looking into ingredients, cruelty free and vegan etc, what we need to do is just take a little extra time to do the research on the products we buy. The new Fusion Body Art range is cruelty free, vegan, paraben free, perfume free and gluten free. And the beauty of it is that they tell us that information! A lot of other brands might have the same qualities but I don’t think I’ve seen it listed as clearly as the Fusion range, they’re not making us do any work! And the paints are great quality too! Sometimes I’ve found you have to sacrifice the quality of a product to get something cruelty free but these paints are incredible!
It can be really overwhelming to think about the environment, but there are so many little steps that if we all take can make a huge impact! How much paint do we all get through a year, and how much of a difference would it make if we all instead of throwing empty pots away, saved them up and took them to a recycling plant? How much paper could we collectively save by switching to digital alternatives? Not only will taking these small steps be a positive way for us to change our behaviours, but it can be a selling point to our clients. Why should I use you rather than the other painter? I’M AN ECO WARRIOR PICK ME! Well not quite, but you know. They will be happy to think that they are making better decisions too, plus, as I said earlier, how much money are you going to save on printing costs?! I’ve tried to cover as much as I can think of in this post, but if there is anything you do that I have missed out, let me know in the comments!
The Pixie Tribe
Trying to be an Eco Warrior