8/27/2008

an ethical question for you

more blue

For awhile now I've been thinking about setting up an etsy shop, selling bundles of postcards/prints with my flower pics, some items that I've crocheted from recycled yarns, and maybe even a painting or two.

But each time I've set out to list items on etsy, I talk myself out of it. The main reason being that I aim to live lightly on the earth, and while I think my pictures make lovely stationery, that's trees giving their lives unnecessarily, right? Although I will admit that I love writing letters and I buy non-recycled stationery sometimes, I'm not sure that I could sell a non-recycled item myself. And while I love crocheting things as gifts, I'm not sure that it's worth the fuel to ship such items to whomever might order them.

But I use etsy.com all the time--loving to buy from the various sellers there. And a part of me wants to join in the fun of my other friends who sell their artsy items online.

What do you think? Do you buy items on etsy? If so, what type of things do you buy? How do you balance your desire to sell/buy your goods online with your desire to minimize your eco-footprint?

Photo: a cluster of blue flowers from a neighbor's garden. This is one of my all-time fav pics. The colors in this image make me feel so peaceful.

13 comments:

Amy said...

I think you should definitely do it. You can always buy recycled photo paper to print the prints on and send the prints in mailing tubes or photo mailers. That way they can go by u.s. mail because the mail truck is doing that route with or without your print inside. That way you're using recycled materials and not making any fuel using vehicle go out of its way. You should SO do it.

Amy
amyjess.blogspot.com

Penny L. Richards said...

I agree with Amy--if you make things like cards, flat and non-fragile, things that can go by regular US mail, the transport costs per each item are minimal. And you can get low-impact mailers and photo paper. And maybe add a slip to each packet encouraging the recipient to reuse the packaging (I reuse bubble mailers all the time). You could also pledge a percent of each sale as a donation to an environmental or other cause, to add further good to the project.

What I figure is that your audience on Etsy is going to be fairly conscientious about such things anyway. Remember, they're looking for well-crafted items direct from the crafter, skipping the middle man and the mass production. They're making thoughtful choices, not impulse purchases. They're looking to encourage artists and crafters with their dollars.

daisies said...

you should so do it and like others have said, you can use green products and recycled packaging ... the thing is so much of what we buy/consume is shipped from across the world which leaves a much larger footprint than buying locally or buying from independent artists and the mail leaves a much smaller footprint at the end of the day than the stuff shipped from china.

i buy on etsy all the time and love having art on my walls that supports independent artists. i also sell on etsy though i am taking a bit of a hiatus and there is something so wonderful about sending off your creation to someone that you know will appreciate it :)

i guess my vote is yes!!

Lisa said...

I vote YES! Double yes! And there are eco friendly alternatives. You can send me the addresses of people you ship to, I can go to their house and make sure they recycle (okay that may be a bit extreme). Your photography is AMAZING. I would LOVE to have a photo of yours on my wall, it would bring me joy. Really. You are an inspiration to me, in so many ways. I think you have no idea about the incredible sense of self you possess and express and the hope that you give your readers through your candid sharing. Seriously. Your blog is a gift to me and we've never met!

deanna said...

I bought entirely from Etsy for christmas gifts last year (after trying to think of things I could give such as knife-sharpening that did not consume or create items). I found it to be a great resource for balancing the expectation of me to give a gift with my values.

I bought such things as a water bottle holder made out of a recycled sweater, handmade cards and hand-sewn pouches. I was supporting students, mothers, and artists rather than executives and strip malls. I did think about the shipping, but the items are SOOOOO small and have such minimal packaging, that in the end I felt it was better to go this route than any other.

Good luck with your decision!

This Little Light said...

Echoing everyone else's very valid comments as well, i would rather support an individual trying to make a living as opposed to big box retailers.

Downbeat said...

In addition to all of the wonderfully thoughtful insight the other commenters have already provided, might I encourage you to use etsy to market yourself to local consumers? When I'm shopping on etsy, I always look for what crafters and artists are creating in my metropolitan area first and try to buy local. That way, I can be sure that I'm supporting my local economy and cutting down on packaging and shipping nonsense.

Sarah said...

I'm taking myself out of "lurking" and saying "hi" for the first time - compelled because a friend of mine first gave me the link to your blog because she knew of my absolute love for The Blue Flower that you have this be-a-u-tiful picture of here, and I have always been to shy to ask if I could buy a print of it. Obviously, my vote would be a hearty YES! please sell, and let me buy, this, especially if on recycled paper, as treading lightly and breathing deeply should be a mantra we all follow more closely...

Mother Earth said...

I like to support an artisan, if i know that artisan I like to support them even more - i tend to keep my purchases local yet love the reach an etsy account provides an artist to sell, if i think of it as their livlihood - i'd rather support you than hallmark - I like the idea of recycled materials, and the more one can do that with kitch ( sp? ) and style the more I'd be drawn to that artisan. I think having your medium available to sell is completely appropriate, perhaps if for each sale a tree is planted or a cause is donated to that would assist your eco-cause minded-ness

G said...

yes yes yes please do start an etsy account (I've toyed with the idea of one myself.)

like others mentioned, there are eco-friendly ways of doing what you want to do.

and

give people the chance to support small artists instead of large corporations.

Kristin said...

Writing letters and postcards is becoming a lost art. Go for it.
We need to keep sending encouragements to those we care for, and most of us would rather do so on special, unique, recycled pieces.

Vajra said...

I think an Etsy shop would be great. But there's some big "ifs." If you have the time. If it would be fun. If it would feed your creativity. If you can do it while taking care of those you love, including yourself. If it feels like a way of saying "yes."

jana said...

vajra:
You've nailed some of the big "ifs" for me. I'm just not sure that I'm ready to take it on. And/or if it's in line with all of my values. And/or if it would pull time away from activities that are more important to me.

At the same time, all this time I've been spending sitting on the couch--maybe I could be creating some fun items to share while I'm already in recovery mode.

Still thinking this one through...