Thursday, November 5, 2009

Interview with EcoEtsy Featured Member: EcoKaren

Twitter: @ecokarenlee

How did you get started in your chosen craft?
I started to craft and make eco-friendly items without knowing that they were considered eco-riendly. Some might call me a pack rat, but I honestly see so many possibilities and potential in things we’d normally throw out. One of my favorite resourceful craft is converting unrecyclable plastic into a functional items, like soap dish (check out this great tut: eco-tutorial-soap disk) or birds nest magnets out of plastic bottle caps. I also started making knitted washcloths with upcycled yarn that lasted forever that I gave them out to friends and family. They loved the idea and I started making them to sell on Etsy

How do you make your craft or etsy store eco friendly?
I upcycle any fabric or yarn to sew or knit. I use up almost all the fabric scraps, like for my fabric flower brooch, I use left over pieces of yarn for hanging tags, I upcycle magazine pages to make envelopes (checkout another awesome eco-tut: eco-tutorial - recycled inner envelopes) to ship items. And When I need to buy new materials, I try to buy low impacting and sustainable materials like organic or bamboo (although bamboo has come under a lot of scrutiny lately as being not as green as we thought, it’s still better than buying NEW cotton that uses hundreds of pounds of chemicals in making.)

Why did you join the EcoEtsy Team?
Because great minds think alike and we are all striving for a common goal – to save this planet. I love the fact that we exchange great earth saving ideas.

Where do you get your ideas/inspiration?
The resources I have. Artists usually have something in mind when they create but when I look at the resources I have, I think of things to create. Take the dryer balls, (she's full of them, another great tut: eco-tutorial- dryer balls) for example. I had all these orphaned socks and wanted to make something out of them instead of throwing them out or leaving them in a drawer somewhere. So I decided to make dryer balls with them. I thought other people might have the same problem so I posted here on the team’s blog.

Which piece in your shop is your current favourite?
The utensil pouch. I used to collect all those plastic take out utensils and use them when I needed them. But now, I use these utensil pouches and pack my own silverware. I eat better with real silverware rather than those flimsy plastic utensils but I am contributing to reducing all that plastic going to the landfill.

What are you currently working on?
I recently opened ‘ecokaren’ for my eco-friendly items. ‘ecogeneration’ is now for eco-friendly supplies and stashing supplies that I don’t need anymore. I am trying to stock both stores while trying to tweak my new/old blog. It’s tough working on three things at once but I am trying to stock up as much as I can before the Holiday.

What steps have you taken to lead a green life style?
My family….

· recycle

· changed all the light bulbs to CFL bulbs,

· buy things that have less packaging. (I cringe when I see cute things but are packaged to death. It’s wasteful.) We buy in bulk as much as possible.

· buy locally grown organic foods instead from California and certainly not from a foreign country. My whole family has been going to the Farmers Market on Saturdays. The kids pick out the foods and see where their foods come from. It’s a great learning experience for them as they see the ingredients of the foods they eat. They actually talk to the people who grew and harvested the vegetables, fruits, and even the meats they eat.

· try to buy items that are made from recycled materials.

· use glass instead of plastic to store things in kitchen.

· have been using reusable bags for groceries before they were fashionable.

· there are so much more but one major change we started to do was NOT buy into temptation and buy on an impulse. It creates so much unnecessary waste. We are more careful in what we purchase. I think, in the long run, that is the most eco-friendly act we can do – reduce waste.

Is your art/craft your full time job? If not what do you do to pay the bills?
Currently, it’s a hobby although it feels like a full time job. Because I just opened a second shop AND moved my blog to another platform, it’s been challenging to craft. I am always tweaking my blog, writing articles about the environment, think of eco tips and tutorials, and find ways to make it better. I started a sponsorship campaign this month to make a little money from the blog. I have many craft projects in the fire but I haven’t had the time to finish them. I am lucky enough to be able to stay home with my kids while I develop my business. I am hoping to pay my bills from the shop soon. I can’t pay their college tuition yet but I am working on it. You have to have goals, right?

What do you do when you are not crafting?
I don’t have any other exotic hobby other than crafting but when I’m not crafting, I am being a full time mom to two busy teenagers and a wife to a busy husband – in that order, my DH complains. So I guess that would be my exotic hobby, being everyone’s executive assistant.

What is the most eco-friendly purchase you have made?
All natural rubber mattress. It is the best mattress we ever bought.
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