Friday, July 9, 2010

"Use It Up!..."

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico makes me angrier by day after long day. It amazes me that our country, so technologically savy, educated, so caring in so many ways, cannot understand the negative impact we do to our earth daily. I have always been an environmentalist, 'Earth Bird', 'Tree Hugger'... Call me whatever... I am proud of it. I realized long ago, that our own day to day living as part of a much larger wasteful society, causes the diverse, interdependent, fragile natural habitats, our own health, the health of our rivers and air to become ill. I knew we each must do our part, so I create art from recycled materials. This was my emphasis in the beginning, and still is a great part of my art- to make something beautiful from wasted materials. I remember my late Mother always using this anonymous quote with us: "Use it Up! Wear it out! Make it Do! Or do Without!" Yes, she was from the Great Depression era, but they were not wasters.

We recycle as much as we can in our home and in the studios trying to make, at least, a bit of a dent where so many do little but expect the earth to churn out the natural resources forever. Meanwhile, most gets dumped in landfills here, in poorer countries or our oceans. We have a composter for all the plant and vegetable clippings. It creates wonderful topsoil for my plants and herbs. We fold all cardboards from cereal, cracker boxes, junk mail and and heavier papers, and along with any metals or glass, deliver them to the recycle box or the recycling place in town. We drive little and conserve gas. With our list we make one trip to town instead of three or four. I enjoy going to second hand thrift stores looking for objects for my art and many other things to re-appropriate into new items. We try to buy things with less packaging, and bring our own handmade bags to the grocery stores made from the Jeans I found at the thrift stores.
Some will say I'm crazy, and I've been told this on many occasions over the years. It's said with such distaste and disdain too. But my answer to them is a simple refrain, 'Where is your personal responsibility to your own well-being, that of your children's, or to the Earth? Who does it start with, someone else? Why not you? When do we stop taking from the Earth and give something back?' We all can do a little something- "Count your pennies and the dollars add up" is a good old quote, and we can easily think of ourselves as the Pennies on the Earth that will add up to a cleaner, healthier Dollar planet if we choose to do our part.

What are some ideas you may have for re-purposing art materials or ridding your workspace of some of the toxins you may use? Let's share ideas in the name of Mother Earth today, - Everyday is Earth Day, or it should be!
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  1. Good for you you Kate! I am so with you. I do a ton of local driving (kids back and forth from dance classes, part time job, pick up at highschool, etc..) so when it came time for a new car, I bought a hybrid, Escape Hybrid to be exact. It is a SUV but it gets 34 miles to the gallon and when idling in traffic, goes into to that incredibly clean electric mode. I swore I would embrace whatever new technology came along to reduce our depenence on fossil fuels. Take that BP. We recyclye paper goods, glass, tin, aluminum etc... We also make sure to take all our old electronics to recycle centers. For my art, I recycle junk mail and often use junk mail notices underneatch whatever I am working on. Those pieces of mail become stained and colored and then they are used in collages. As far as my acrylics, I never wash my brushes in the sink nor do I dump the water that held dirty brushes down the goes into a bucket, when dry, I peel the acrylic skins out of the bucket and put them in our plastics recycle bin. Not sure if this is kosher, so to speak, but it beats throwing the stuff down the drain.

  2. Good for you, Kathy! I think many artists are realizing the toxins going into groundwater that we wind up drinking later on down the road. I don't think many realize that the water that is on the earth today, is the same water that has been here for millions upon millions of years. It's just recycled through condensation, evaporation. What we put into it, rains down on us... forever. Our natural resources will all deplete soon with an overpopulation of people in a throwaway world, so we all must do our part. I use 90 proof alcohol or some (Vodka) to soak my old synthetic collage brushes in. It gets the acrylic out quickly and I can use it over and over. I put the alcohol in a jar. When it gets too bad, I let it dry out, add a bit of water, and scape the plastic from the sides. It can be kept in a bag for recycling. Plastic is plastic!
    Great that you got a hybrid! Aren't they the quietest? One day I'll get one, but for now, I have a 4 cylinder and travel little. I remember back in the '70's when the big oil crisis happened. Cars back then were getting 40 miles to a gallon. I kind of laugh that the industry, with all it's technologies can tout their 28 mp gallon. Got to be kidding 40 years later! I live in the desert Southwest and the sun shines 360 days a year here. This past week, 120 degree days! You would think this entire town would be on solar? It's unbelievable and would be such a savings. I only wish I could afford it, but I'm saving like mad. I think it's the batteries that are the cost problem. Thanks for commenting, Kathy. I think I lost a subscriber over this post, is life... we all must do our part. Happy greening, kiddo!(+: Kate

  3. Hi Kate! Great message. Part of me is conscious of the environment, no harmful chemicals in my gardens to harm the wild life. I have a mulch pile, rain barrels and try to look and new uses for things others would throw away. Saving energy just makes sense. But must confess the other part of me is just plain pack rat! I held on to a torn up shredded crazy quilt for 30 yrs before I used it in an art project!

  4. Oh, Cathy, you probably do more than you think, and Pack Rat?? I'm the freakin' queen! I have a bucket under my kitchen sink with a lid just for my vegetable and plant cuttings. Any moldy veggies from the fridge, bananas and apple peels go in. When it's full, I go out to my compost barrel and throw it in, toss with a pitchfork and water. I have great topsoil for my plants! And my garbage doesn't stink anymore at all! It's 120 here today and I feel like a worn out zombie.
    This desert gets too hot!! Tomorrow my art friends are having a play day outside in this...Ugh... And they want to use heat guns!! My friends are crazy- but artists, ya gotta love us! Have a great weekend!

  5. Thanks for the tip on the vodka. I have this huge bottle and I don't especially like vodka. What a great way to recycle. Why did I not think of that! I have been using 70% alcohol to clean some stubborn old brushes but have not thought to "soak" them. I know what I will do now!

  6. Kathy, the only way I like my Vodka is with grapefruit juice and ice. It's a nice summer drink- BUT don't drink too many! The 70% alcohol does not work as well as the 90%, but many stores only carry the 70%. I have found it...and I HATE to say this... at Walmart... (never shop there). Walgreen's Drugs also has it occasionally.I also bought a cheap, small wire brush at the hardware store to really get all the ppolymer out after soaking. Now for oil paints, just soak your brushes in an oil, but create something to suspend your brushes for both - in the alcohol and in the oil- that way your brush tips don't get bent out of shape, like I have after forgetting to do this! Ha! (+: Kate


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