It's not easy being green -- coming clean about my environmental sins

polar bear
Feel guilty yet?
I can't stand looking into the sad eyes of polar bears floating on tiny ice bergs, starving to death because we humans won't give up our cars

Those images are one reason I began upcycling. It seemed like a good way to practice and encourage recycling, lessen waste, and ultimately help those polar bears.

But it isn't that simple.

It turns out my oh-so-green business burns up quite a bit of fossil fuel. Here's how:

  • I drive to find my materials. In my non-hybrid Honda. The closest thrift store is less than 2 miles away, but often I travel 4 miles or more to visit a better one. And to find my stash of Drew books, I have to go to a used-book store, 2 towns over.
  • I include recycled paper and plastic to pack my items for shipping whenever I can, but I still buy rolls and rolls of new clear tape and bubble wrap. Those, I believe, start life as petroleum.
Using pages from an old book to wrap package
  • Thanks to Etsy's global audience, I ship my upcycled products far and wide. I love bragging about my customers in Finland or Israel. But then I remember that my tiny packages travel in a large, gas-guzzling airplane over thousands of miles. Possibly right over those polar bears they're killing.
airplane from kids book
Up up and away with my beautiful carbon footprint
  • I confess I've even ordered old books online, just to rip them apart. So first they fly to me, then they fly away. But how else can I find the Trixie Belden titles my customers demand?
Trixie Belden saving a lamb
Don't blame me. I'm saving a lamb here.
In fact, this morning I was looking for a book that a customer wants me to turn into an iPad case. I came upon these two used books on Amazon. And they only cost 1 cent! Sure, with shipping it's a few dollars. But think of the fantastic Kindle cases they'd make!
Silly book
Even polar bears would love this.
Silly book
That's me on the far right.
Don't be fooled by my light-hearted tone -- I am bothered and perplexed. How do I resolve my dilemma? Buy carbon offsets? Stop shipping long-distance? If you're a crafting entrepreneur, what do you do to be greener?

Opinions welcome.

**** Update*****
One environmentally aware youngster I know sent me this photo. He's wearing a shirt that says "I wish global warming was just a bad dream." And of course, there's a cute polar bear.


  1. I had the exact same dilemma. I decided to look at my life as a whole, rather than just the art aspect. I chose to be child-free and vegetarian about 28 years ago, so figure my carbon footprint is scads smaller than most Americans. Not reproducing and not eating meat provide very big sustainable bangs for the buck. So my conscience is pretty clear on all the little stuff.

    1. Thanks for the bigger perspective, Janet. I'll keep it in mind. I'll focus on getting the big stuff right.


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