So, before I headed out on vacation, I shared those awesome vegan feathers. Vegan crafting is something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. So much, in fact, that I wrote a whole series on vegan crafting for Crafting a Green World. While I firmly believe that a vegan lifestyle is better for the planet than one that relies on animal products, I think it’s also important to understand that vegan doesn’t automatically mean eco-friendly.
Sure, fresh fruits and veggies are lower impact than meat products, and they’re definitely lighter on the animal cruelty. The same goes for something like organic cotton when you compare the impact (and cruelty) to leather. Like with vegan food, though, things get a little bit dicey when you start talking about substitutions for animal products. Here are a couple of examples and some rules of thumb for making green choices when working around animal products in your crafting.
Wool Felt vs. Synthetic Felt
If you’re staying away from animal products, wool felt is on the no-fly list, but what’s a vegan crafter to do instead? The easiest answer is to use synthetic felt, but synthetic felt is a petroleum product. That means it’s basically plastic. There are a couple of options for a vegan crafter that wants to keep it green without supporting the wool industry:
- Recycled felt. Kunin makes eco-fi felt that’s created by recycling plastic soda bottles. I have had a hard time finding this stuff in stores, but Felt-o-Rama and Create for Less both stock a nice range of colors. I’ve bought from both companies, and they both ship quickly and have great customer service.
- Reused felt. This one might not be an option, depending on why veganism is important to you, but! If it’s about the wool industry for you, you might be OK with felting wool sweaters from the thrift store. Technically, your goodies are not going to be vegan, but some vegans are OK with second hand leather and wool. I tend to avoid all animal products when I’m crafting, but I wanted to throw this out there as an option, for folks who are comfortable with it.
Leather vs. Vinyl
Leather is a no-no if you’re a vegan crafter, and the trouble with vinyl is the same as the problem with synthetic felt: it’s essentially a sheet of plastic. That’s no good, if you’re trying to keep things eco-friendly! Honestly, my solution to the leather problem has been to just focus on crafts that don’t call for leather. If you’re determined, reclaimed leather is one option. Like with reclaimed wool, though, this isn’t really vegan crafting, and it depends on your comfort level and why you chose veganism.
Some googling turned up a few vinyl producers claiming that their product is green, but I haven’t found any that I’m crazy about. If anyone has suggestions for eco-friendly vinyl alternatives, I’d love to hear them!
In my experience, the best workaround when it comes to animal products in crafting has been to just focus on crafts that don’t call for them. If you’re looking for a substitution for animal products, I think it’s important to ask yourself a few questions:
- How was this produced? Was the process toxic?
- What is this product made of?
- What will happen to this material when it’s outlived its usefulness?
Really, I think those are the three questions that any green crafter lives by, and it’s no different for vegan crafters.
I’d love to hear from the vegan crafters out there! What do you guys do to keep it green? Have you found any eco-friendly substitutions for animal products in crafting? Share away!