Sustainability

When I was little, my Grandmother taught me the simple saying ‘waste not, want not’, which has been ingrained in me ever since. I apply the same principle to art materials, food and electricity.

 

I take sustainability extremely seriously and constantly evaluate everything I do to try to improve. 

My partner Jason and I live semi off-grid in rural mid Wales. We are always working towards reducing our impact on the environment and the planet as far as possible.

 

In terms of art materials, I have evolved my own painting techniques to minimise wastage in all areas. A tiny sliver of paint can go a very long way. Where I do use a lot of paint for impasto effect, I make sure all the paint ends up on the canvas, with any excess going on my apron or a piece of rag, and an absolute minimum going down the drain. I save up dried paint to recycle in sculptures. I don't use spray paints or aerosols.

 

When sculpting, I use sustainable materials wherever possible (metal, wire, cardboard, etc), and make considerable use of recycled and repurposed materials (upcycled plastic, found items, charity shop finds, etc.). In 2017/8 I worked with Oakman Inns to create a Green Man sculpture out of tens of thousands of discard plastic drinking straws as part of the #banthestraw campaign. My metal sculpture involves zero use of welding to minimise the carbon footprint. Binding elements together with wire also symbolises the interconnectedness of all things in nature.
 

 

When leading workshops, the first thing I always do is teach people how to  look after their tools and conserve their art materials, to minimise wastage. I check that brushes aren’t left to dry caked in paint. I ensure palette knives are wiped clean. I supply airtight takeaway boxes to make sure that unused paints can be taken home and used, rather than thrown away.

 

Jason and I save and reuse or recycle most of our packaging, especially cardboard, brown paper, foam and bubble wrap. Cardboard boxes are flattened for easy storage and reshaped where necessary to package up artwork being sent to a client.

 

Where possible, I use the ParcelMonkey website to send parcels. ParcelMonkey is a courier comparison website that plants a tree via Ecologi for every parcel sent, to help offset carbon emissions. Working with ParcelMonkey, I have planted about 100 trees to date, mostly in Honduras. Well over 500,000 trees have been planted to date through ParcelMonkey's collaboration with Ecologi.

 

My website is hosted by UK2, which is powered by 100% renewable energy sources. I use Ecosia as a search engine, which plants trees for every internet search. I use Firefox by Mozilla as a web browser - Mozilla is helping spread awareness of the invisible carbon footprint of the internet and AI. It is estimated that the carbon emissions of the original training required to operate Chat GPT-3 equate to driving to the moon and back.

 

I have not used an aeroplane since 2009 when I became aware of the environmental impact of flying. If I need to travel abroad, I take a boat, which is slower, but a fraction of the impact. Jason and I work from home as far as possible and travel only when necessary.

 

I have never worn makeup. Fashion has never interested me. I buy practical clothes that will last me for many years.

 

My hobbies are simple, low impact activities: freestyle dancing (usually outdoors in wellies and mud), learning languages, and snail-mail correspondence to brighten other people’s days.

 

I seize every opportunity to reference environmental themes in my artwork and spread awareness. The Green Man or foliate face is a recurring symbol, as is the spider’s web (interconnectedness of biodiversity).

 

As far as possible, I try to live lightly upon the earth. We can all do our bit.


Loïs Cordelia, March 2024