Obviously, any form of production has an ecological footprint. Working with the soil creates a very unique connection with nature. Unfortunately, ceramics can be energy intensive as any other forms of production. Here are some tips to reduce your impact and be more sustainable in your ceramic practice.
1.Recycle your clay
Having access to sophisticated equipment is not necessary to reclaim clay. All you need is a little bit of time, muscular energy to wedge, a plastic bucket to put your scraps in, water and a plaster slab! As long as clay is not fired, it could be endlessly re-used . Get into the habit of doing it!
2.Working with EarthenwareWorking with earthenware requires a lot less energy than stoneware. As it is a low temperature clay, the firings are usually quicker and cheaper than a cone 6 firing. You don't have to change your elements as often on your kiln, your carbon footprint will be reduced and your wallet will thank you. (Also see)
3.Working with locals materials
Clay bodies are composed of a mix of different materials, sourced from different places, that form a workable paste. To reduce your carbon footprint, it is good to choose a local clay supplier but also, to look at the composition of your clay. it is mainly made up of raw materials sourced nearby? That's even better!
4.Pack your work with reused materials or brown paper (not bubble wrap)One of the biggest struggles with ceramics is handling. The production, sale and transport of ceramics requires a lot of packaging. I would suggest letting go the bubble wrap right away unless you reused it. Brown "newspaper" is not only easier to store in rolls in a studio, it allows you to wrap the most fragile pieces in a very safe and eco-friendly way. The golden rule is to always make sure that the piece could absolutely not move. I would suggest to also create a buffer of at least 1 inch and a half between the ceramic and the walls of the box. Although I have never used any, there are also biodegradable packing peanuts available on the market.
5.Having a small scale production
Bigger is not always better. Everything we produce leaves an ecological footprint. Ask yourself if producing more is justified in your situation? Sometimes it is possible to produce less and to make with more intention. You can spend more time to make an object but sell it for more. Ceramic objects from small production should stand out from the crowd, not be generic. Apprehend each piece you create as unique small artworks. They should have a reason to exist in a world where everything is already there.
Several years ago, I made the personal choice to reduce my production to a minimum and allow myself to explore as much as possible with my medium. If you are interested to see what kind of production I do, you can subscribe to my newsletter.