I have a social enterprise called Dream Love Grow and for the last year we have been fundraising, applying for grants and gaining support for a free art and multimedia workshop for low income youth in Ottawa called A.R.T (A Real Thought) In Action. It starts this coming Saturday at the Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre and we are still accepting participants. It’s taken a lot of work and hours to make this a reality and Sarah and I couldn’t be more proud to be offering the first ever arts program at this community centre.
I was so excited.
Until I needed to pick up the supplies that were remaining on the list.
Paint comes in plastic bottles. Oh, but those are recyclable some say.
No. They are not.
The majority of “recyclable” plastic does not actually get recycled. It gets thrown in the garbage at the recycling centre (some more waste facts can be found HERE) or worse, gets shipped to another country, like a recycler in Whitby that illegally shipped plastics to my home country in the Philippines!!! It’s actually a huge investment and people make tons of money. Read the article HERE.
Seriously. What the fuck.
The canvas boards were individually wrapped in plastic. The containers we wanted to use to put paint in so the students could take home came packaged in plastic. In hindsight, I just should have said no to this. I did however manage to find paintbrushes that were packaged in cardboard. Small victory.
I went home that day and called DeSerres and Wallacks to find out if there was any possibility of ordering canvas that did not come in plastic. I found out that every canvas board delivered is wrapped in plastic, then 5 of those individually wrapped canvas boards are then wrapped in more plastic, and then more of those are all wrapped with more plastic and put in a box. Regular size canvases are plastic wrapped in packages of 5 and then wrapped in more plastic and then put in a box. This is from every warehouse that delivers art supplies.
While this doesn’t seem like too big of an issue for an art workshop that will only happen if we fundraise more money for it, last month I made a deal with an establishment in Ottawa to offer Mixed Media Art Workshops every Thursday for groups of 12. Every Thursday starting in April.
According to the Zero Waste Business Principles, a business that is zero waste diverts 90% of waste from the landfill.
Having these workshops using these types of materials is not zero waste.
In order to somewhat recycle what I had to buy, I have decided to cut the plastic off the canvas in a way that the students can reuse them as a bag. The other bags that held the plastic containers, I’m going to use to repackage other products that were made prior to this journey. This isn’t ideal or great, but if I don’t do it I’ll cry.
After this though, I need to be more creative in my creativity and in my business.
I can not have a business that does not match my personal values and my personal ways of living. If I try to do this, I know it wouldn’t last long and I will suffer.
There are a few solutions that I have come up with:
1) Buy raw canvas, build wooden frames or buy plywood and stretch the canvas onto the wood. This may be more expensive and time consuming than $1.25-2.50 store bought canvas boards.
2) Use cardboard instead of canvas and explain to participants the reasoning behind this choice. I have created tons of art that doesn’t use canvas. In fact I haven’t even really bought canvas in a while. I mostly repaint over others or find some outside of garbage bins that I take home.
4) Make my own natural paint which I’ve found HERE prior to the workshops and store in glass mason jars.
5) Only make art from found items that can be recycled
6) Create digital art or just make more video art and photo art (that if I print, I must print with an eco-friendly printer that uses 100% recyclable paper and waterless printing like Green Printer Online).
7) Harass the fuck out of art distributors to not package their products in plastic like Food Babe (I love her) did to huge billion dollar food companies to get rid of GMO’s and chemicals that I stopped eating years ago. I mean if companies like Life Without Plastic can do it, why can’t others??
Or quit art.
Which will never happen.
I am committed in my ways and I am stubborn. I have downsized so much and I have baked and cooked so much good, healthy food since I’ve started (I LOVE IT! Blog post to come) that I can not and will not back down now.
I am still beginning and I am still learning, and I will only get better.
I have until April to figure out a way to make these art workshops eco-friendly and sustainable.
The challenge is on.