Craft is awesome, especially when you are able to avoid buying something because you made it. Here’s a basic run down of how you can avoid waste and keep your environmental footprint as low as possible.
#1 Go outside, create with the local, natural materials you find. If that sounds boring let me introduce you to Andy Goldsworthy.
2# Let the material you have be the starting point for your project. Just like cooking, its hard to avoid waste if you start by buying stuff instead of working out how you can use what you have got. Look in all the cupboards, …look in the recycling bin!
3# Avoid new materials from craft shops. Or, next best, buy natural products like wood, paper and wool.
4# Find your local Reuse Charity. These are amazing amazing places that most large centres have. Christchurch you have the legendary Creative Junk and Auckland has a few, the one I know is the North Shore Resource Centre. Usually fill a bag for a gold coin. They have the full range of craft supplies.
5# Consider what will happen to your project at the end of its life. For example you repaint tired looking wooden chair with old paint: If that wooden chair was natural before you painted it it could have been burned for firewood or chipped for mulch, etc, now what will happen to it? Is this really zero waste? The golden rule is: Keep human made items like paint, glue and glitter away from natural items like card, paper, wood, wool. This is because an entirely natural craft project can ultimately be returned the earth as an ingredient in your compost heap or buried in the garden. AND the entirely plastic based project (PVA, glitter, paint, balloons) is inert. This means it can go to landfill without the harmful effects of the paper and other natural products emitting methane as they break down without air.
6# Sub-out short-use-plastic for longer lasting options. Replace markers and highlighters with good quality colouring pencils, crayons or pastels. Consider wooden brushes with natural bristles instead of plastic.
7# I’m pretty sure foam shapes are a first cousin once removed from the devil.
8# …and laminating is the devil’s Great Aunt and should be avoided at all costs…unless you intend to bestow your laminated glory on the next 2000 generations.