Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day : the environment


Chris took this shot a couple weeks ago when he was down in Southern Oregon visiting his grandparents. The fog was actually rolling up and over the hill in a giant steady wave.

Today a very cool thing is happening all over the internet called Blog Action Day. It is a day set aside for a mass posting about  a single issue – this year it is the environment. I just learned, as I was reading about the organizers, that one of them is Leo who writes one of my favorite blogs: Zen Habits.

So today, in honor of Blog Action Day, I want to talk a bit about the idea of green scrapbooking.

First thought: is this even possible? Let's face it, scrapbooking as most of us experience it today is really not very environmentally friendly. And the truth is, you really don't need all the excess stuff to tell your story and document your life creatively (the simple heart of what we do is words + photos). That said, since I am still planning to continue buying and using new products as most of the rest of you are (choices + balance, right?), there are definitely some things that can be done to lessen the impact on this one and only planet we call home.

Here are some things I am doing (or trying to do - as with everything else it is a work in progress) or have been thinking about in order to work towards a "greener" hobby/job/life:

1. Recycle all the paper scraps that don't go into my scrap-box for later us. This is super simple. I also recycle all product packaging, printing mistakes, bits of this and that, etc. In my office I have a big basket for paper recycling that gets put into our large recycle can for pick-up each week. This is an easy thing to do to lessen the amount of things going into the trash. Here's a great site that talks all about paper recycling.

2. Reuse. As you may have noticed in my post about my office last week, I buy a lot of my storage pieces second-hand. I love the character, charm and chance to re-purpose something that was originally created to be used for something else.

3. Re-purpose. Lately I have been looking for things to add to my projects at flea markets, garage sales, Goodwill, antique stores, etc. Accents, type-based papers, fabrics, etc can be located and purchased and become a part of my creations. This doesn't mean that I am going to stop buying some of the fun cool new products, it simply means I am broadening the scope of potential things to incorporate into my projects.

An off-shoot of this same idea: use the stuff that comes in the mail (that everyday "stuff" that accumulates…junk mail, etc) on your projects and pages. Re-purpose all that junk for some creative good. I talked a bit about this idea related to a "daily creative something" in a recent issue of my newsletter.

And if you think these are crazy ideas and you simply want to work towards eliminating the amount of junk you receive in the mail, you can do so by registering on the national "do not mail" list.

4. Simply use what you have rather than always buying the newest thing. For me this has started to mean being really conscious of what I buy. Many of you commented on how I am now using only four or five colors of cardstock rather than hundreds. This not only simplifies my choices when I am ready to create (which for me is a good thing), it also means I am not buying stuff that I am not going to use. There is nothing wrong with being picky when it comes to buying products. Thinking before you buy is a good thing.

5. Consider going digital or incorporating some digital products into your projects. Printing patterned paper at home using recycled paper is a cool option.

6. A question: Are there any scrapbook companies currently using recycled materials – paper or otherwise? If you know of one could you let me know by posting in the comments or sending me an email. I would love to be able to support companies that are using sustainable practices or working with recycled materials.

7. Encourage your local scrapbook store to recycle (and have recycling available in their crop room) and use compact florescent light bulbs. Simple stuff that can make a big impact. Here at home have changed over all of our bulbs over the last year or so – man, they really do last a lot longer than the traditional bulbs and with so many rebates available to price is really right.

8. Read this post from Worsted Witch (another of my favorite blogs) for a post on eco-scrapbooking.

Bottom line, as crafty creative people there are definitely things we can do to participate in the movement towards a greener earth. Recycling and reusing and reducing are words and actions that can become a part of our creative vocabulary and our creative lifestyle. Every little bit helps


  • 1.
    Dave Lucas said…

    Green scrapbooking – add me in! At first gamce I thought the picture was of snow… here’s my little green article:

  • 2.
    maryjo said…

    i totally believe everyone can do their own part (no matter how big or how small). great post ali! glad to know i’m already doing many of these & you’ve given me some fresh ideas. this topic really freaks me out when i think about it too much, how it ultimately will affect my children’s lives,& their children & so on. w/ this hobby we want to document for the future so it only seems appropriate to do whatever we can to make it the best future possible! btw, that’s a spectacular picture (i thought it was snow @ a quick glance but then read your caption). maryjo

  • 3.
    Mary said…

    good for you Ali – I agree every little bit helps.
    Hope you had a great weekend…..sad that it was your last album track.

  • 4.
    Kris said…

    That picture is amazing, Ali! Great capture, Chris! :)

  • 5.
    cris said…

    Just a note about the national “do not mail” list. I signed up for that but I also registered at For a few bucks, they stop your junk mail and plant 10 trees for you. A great idea and service.

  • 6.
    Jessica K. said…

    Love this idea. It’s been rolling around in my head for awhile too as I sit here and look at alot of the “stuff” I have accumulated.
    To think that even just 5 years ago 95% of the now scrapbooking population had never even touched the craft let alone had a dedicated room/space in their home to “hoard” stuff. With the product turnover in this industry being less than EVERY 6 months it makes me cringe to think of all the excess.
    I like to donate the things I never got around to using, brand-new things, “dated” items to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. They always need craft items for their kids.
    And if I find a newbie to the hobby I love to give her a little “starter” packet of my favorite items and scraps that I have to help her start out without being overwhelmed.
    There are so many ways we can keep it green with this hobby. Thanks for bringing up the topic and more great ideas. We need to send a message to the manufacurers as well to jump on the R/R/R bandwagon if we can.

  • 7.
    Vicki said…

    Taking care of our enviroment is something thats been on my mind all week. Just got back from Scotland and I was amazed at how far ahead they are on taking care of their enviroment. No graffiti to be seen, they worry about carbons that come out of cars, there are trashcans EVERYWHERE, even in the city there are little boxes for you to spit your gum into. Even in our hotel there was recycling!

  • 8.
    Laura said…

    Great post Ali!

  • 9.
    Di Hickman said…

    I found this company last month called Paper Trunk: They use recycled paper for their products. The paper is thick cardstock weight kinda like crate paper or cosmo cricket.
    I love their stuff! Great patterns and good for the environment!

  • 10.
    christina said…

    speaking of re-purposing…i pull all the little extras and embellishments off the greeting and Christmas cards we receive and save them to add to cards, etc. for others-amazing how much i have accumulated!

  • 11.
    Kirsty Colquhoun said…

    Great ideas Ali, the picture is gorgeous. I have incorporated two buckets for rubbish into my scrapping area, one for recycling and one for non-recyclable rubbish. It amazed me how little rubbish I accumulate that is actually non-recyclable:)

  • 12.
    Cindy McDannold said…

    I am trying REALLY hard to balance the ecstasy of buying with the shame of hoarding. I’ve been using a lot of my stash and although I can’t see any progress, I know that I must be making some!
    So, just keep jogging our conscience and maybe we can all do our part. Thanks, Cindy

  • 13.
    Amber Lee said…

    Great post Ali, I too love thrifted things, and it hurts sometimes looking at the ridiculous packaging on some scrapbook supplies. So much plastic, hopefully that can be addressed soon.

  • 14.
    Erin said…

    I love green living and scrapbooking. Thanks for the great ideas for incorporating both worlds, Ali!

  • 15.
    Michelle said…

    Scrapbooking is a way to share the things that are important to you – in this case the environment. Making pages about enviro-friendly actions you take in your life is a great thing to document and would be especially cool to read about years from now.

  • 16.
    Karen said…

    This post really struck a chord with me as i’ve thought about the whole environmentally friendly aspect of scrapbooking. When you think about the size of the industry and the consumption of paper and cardstock it makes a person stop and think. I’ve often thought that a great market would be new prints on recycled paper and cardstock. I recycle in my crafts as much as possible, make my own embellishments and store scraps up for use as journalling spots etc.

  • 17.
    Danielle said…

    I love love love this post Ali. I am trying to lead a “greener” life and I’ve often wondered how I can make the difference in my scrapbooking. I am just in the beginning stages of going digital and it makes me feel so good knowing that this is a way that I can help. Thanks for all the links! And the picture is gorgeous!

  • 18.
    Joy B. said…

    Great photo! That kind of fog is called “dragon’s breath”. Isn’t it lovely?
    And terrific “green” info as well. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone recycled?

  • 19.
    kate said…

    Ali, you are amazing!! I have been incorporating this into my scrapbooking for several months and have found it so satisfying…

  • 20.
    shelley esterholt said…

    great ideas…I have started doing a few of things already.. :)

  • 21.
    Gina said…

    This is a great entry, Ali. I’ve been transforming my bad non-green habits into more earth friendly habits all year. I really like how you wrote this and hopefully some manufacturers will take notice and start making papers from recycled products. That would be amazing!
    I’d also like to add if every scrapper just brought their own cloth bag to take their purchases home in, it’d be one less plastic bag used!

  • 22.
    Gina said…

    This is a great entry, Ali. I’ve been transforming my bad non-green habits into more earth friendly habits all year. I really like how you wrote this and hopefully some manufacturers will take notice and start making papers from recycled products. That would be amazing!
    I’d also like to add if every scrapper just brought their own cloth bag to take their purchases home in, it’d be one less plastic bag used!

  • 23.
    Faith said…

    I send my larger paper scraps to grandson’s 1st grade art class. They think they are wonderful. And, the compact florescent bulbs put off so much light! We have put them in all of our lights and noticed a big drop in the electric bill. We are on an equal payment plan that adjusts each year and it went from $176.50/month last cycle to $126.50/month this cycle. The bulbs are the only thing we can really attribute this drop to. Hey, works for me! (more scrap money!!!)

  • 24.
    Tracy A said…

    Hey Ali – great post! :) For me, I started making changes about a year ago, after seeing “An Inconvenient Truth,” which was EXCELLENTLY done. If you’ve never seen it, you MUST. I was never a big fan of Al Gore as a politician, but as an activist he is amazing. More information can be found on this website:
    We switched over to compact flourescent lighting in our whole house about nine months ago. The only lamps it doesn’t work well for are those on dimmer switches…. they hum and freak me out :) We are also avid recyclers… with my husband and I both working from home, we are constantly amazed at the amount of paper, cardboard and trash that accumulates for just two people! I couldn’t bear to put it all in a landfill. We live in a private development, so we have to pay a little extra for recycling, but it is so worth it.
    This year, I’ve taken up digital scrapping… and I’ve got to say…. I will never completely give up my paper, glue and scissors… BUT… digiscrapping is so much more afforable! Plus, I can hoard digital kits without feeling guilty (as long as I still have room on my hard drive) and when its time to move on to something new, all you need to do is hit the delete key and it disappears into the cosmos, not a landfill :) Pretty cool, if you ask me.
    Another commentor mentioned something about companies that will plant trees for you…. there are LOTS of them out there. There is information on the Climate Crisis website and a quiz that will help you determine your “carbon footprint.” This should help you determine the impact that YOU are having on the planet every month. It will also make suggestions on how you can reduce your impact. My husband and I have made a pact to plant 15 trees a year, somewhere on the planet (the fall is a great time to plant, btw). Also, our house is filled with LIVE plants. They take a little bit more attention than the fake ones, but its a double bonus – you avoid the energy spent in producing plastic AND you help to eat up some of that carbon your daily activities expend.
    Thanks for your post today Ali… it reaffirmed for me that I’m doing some positive things to help our planet and has also encouraged me to find additional, simple ways I can “go green.” :)

  • 25.
    Karin said…

    I hav been thinking of this the past few weeks. I love scrapbooking but, well, so mutch stuff! And print on the backside of a journalingspot? Why? Why all this fancy packaging?
    Thank you for putting words to my thoughts about this!

  • 26.
    Francine said…

    I did a layout about this recently. I used to work in Environmental Management so trying to incorporate being green in my scrapping is important. I keep all my scraps and I reuse a lot of stuff! And thanks for reminding me about Blog Action Day, I better go post on my blog before it’s midnight here! :)

  • 27.
    {vicki} said…

    love this post!
    I think “going green” is a great idea.
    It’s just need to be easier–here in my community you really have to go out of your way to recycle.

  • 28.
    Kelly V said…

    Hi Ali,
    I am all for green scrapbooking and green living in general. I have really been thinking about sourcing products, papers, etc. that are printed in Canada rather than buying things that need to travel thousands of miles to reach me. It really limits my choices but I feel so much better about what I am doing and it forces me to rely on my own creativity rather than on someone else who created a piece of patterned paper.
    Thanks for the post and for the great photo.

  • 29.
    Barbara said…

    YEAH! What a great post and discussion! We can all do more and I love thinking outside of the box- both creatively and environmentally (and incidentally, economically!) Love that Ali!

  • 30.
    Julie Hickey said…

    Thank you for the link to the Worsted Witch. It’s a fascinating read and full of all sorts of good things.
    As far as sustainability goes – I think I have enough scrapbook supplies to sustain me for years to come! I love seeing how old supplies can be used in different/repurposed ways. Sounds like a challenge to me.

  • 31.
    Teresa said…

    Hi Ali, you can learn a lot over Al Gores site (from his movie “the inconvenient truth”) at, also let your voice count at and find places to recicle at I wrote a long post over the environment just a couple days ago. You can read it here:
    Maybe you find inspiration.
    Have a great day!

  • 32.
    Sue said…

    The photo was really beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Also, thanks for reminding us that we need to be responsible ‘green’ scrappers/card makers or as ‘green’ as possible.

  • 33.
    Karinmicheles said…

    I’m all about being green, we recycle practically everything, we have a green bin program for compostable waste and our garbage output is miniscule compared to our recycle bins.
    I just bought a new Energy Star HE washer and dryer, the dryer I needed but I replaced my washer for enviromental reasons (though what does that say about my poor neglected washer…iI think i’m going to freecycle it).
    I get teased by my scrapping buddies when I provide them with both a paper scraps bowl and a garbage bowl.
    But GASP….I really feel for my LSS owning pals when suggesting digital scrapping is the solution. There are so many ways the scrapping companies can reduce packaging, so many ways scrappers can scrap green, without cutting out the paper part of scrapping!
    Love you for putting this out there to your blog readers though!

  • 34.
    Enjoli said…

    Hey Ali. Thank you for this post. Thank you, because even being a “Scrapbooking Celebrity” that you are, you always try to promote being a happy, responsible person. My tip today is this: I am the kind of person that loves magazines (especially scrapbooking ones) and what I hate are all of those subscription tabs that EVERY magazine encloses. To that effect, I am also the kind of person that, when I find an idea I love to ‘mark it’ with a post-it. Here was my solution to those pesky subscription inserts…I take my handy dandy paper cutter and those inserts and cut them up into strips. Then I pile them and use them as tabs for the many wonderful ideas I see in the magazines. In the end, I do not waste post-its (I don’t even use them so I save money), and I don’t need to throw out all of the wasteful inserts. Now that’s what I call killing two birds with one stone. Thanks… e

  • 35.
    teensleuth said…

    Yeah! I’m aboard this train.
    Other ideas:
    Choose products that come in minimal packaging.
    Use fewer products on each layout. Bonus: clarity of design!
    Pick ways to embellish your pages that allow multiple uses: stamping rather than rubbing-on; punching, not stickering.

  • 36.
    JJ said…

    I started thinking about the idea of “green scrapbooking” when you first mentioned green in your blog. I’ve been in the commercial printing/pkg industry for 10 years & had to make a job change early on b/c all I felt like my work was going to junk mail & other packaging (annoying the consumer & wasteful). I think the first issue to address is reducing the packaging. We’ve all seen four ½” items in 10” of packaging. The cardboard isn’t so much the issue as the plastic. I think it would be great if someone as involved in the scrapbook industry as you would take up the cause to reduce plastic packaging. Usually there is something that can be done if the right people take the time to point out possibilities.
    My 2nd thought on this might seem to take the other side a little bit though. I want to say that I love to create something from what would otherwise be trash (like your mail idea). When I was growing up my mom made or helped us make most of our barbie furniture out of stuff that would have gone in the trash. It was mostly b/c of finances but we used our imagination and often loved it more than the “real stuff.” However, with my some of my scrapbooks, I want the option to show them & look at them many years from now. Having been closely involved with all stages of manufacturing printed products I can tell you that if long term use matters to you, using recycled products will not always work. I know we have digital & that archival isn’t as important as it might have once been. When I “scrapbooked” in junior high (approx 15 yrs ago) I used a lot of the stuff you are talking about. I had to b/c of money & lack of options but I hate that my hard work is now disintegrating before my eyes. I can remake it but that’s not the point. Sorry this is such a long post! I feel very passionate about this since it involves both my job & hobby. Thanks for putting it out there Ali! As usual, good use of your blog.

  • 37.

    LEO ROCKS! I love his blog and his posts at I also blog there:)
    We just started a podcast at FS called Freelance Radio. You can find it on iTunes. Would love to hear what you think:)

  • 38.

    LEO ROCKS! I love his blog and his posts at I also blog there:)
    We just started a podcast at FS called Freelance Radio. You can find it on iTunes. Would love to hear what you think:)

  • 39.
    suetreiber said…

    amazing photo Chris!

  • 40.
    Sara said…

    Amazing picture… beautiful! Thank you for sharing such an important topic with us. I try very hard to reuse and ‘re-purpose’ in my craft room (as well as other areas). And as much as I can in my scrapbooking. In my other crafting for sure. It’s not always easy… but a lot of fun trying. At least I think so. All the best!

  • 41.
    Dalne said…

    I loved the misty picture. In Cape Town when the mist creeps over Table Mountain and starts falling down the side of the mountain it is referred to as the table cloth. I just so love that description because it really looks like someone has thrown a misty table cloth over the mountain.

  • 42.
    maple jenny said…

    Great post, Ali. I saw that today was green blogging and wondered if you would do it. Way to go! No I have some new ideas to try. Not going digital, though. Sorry! ; – )

  • 43.
    alexandra said…

    Thanks so much for all the great tips, Ali.
    Wondering if you could tell us again how to get around the acid/lignen etc. etc. part of scrapbooking with junk mail etc. I remember you mentioning a spray and a link to an article but can’t recall the specifics. Would love the info again.
    Thanks for helping to keep things real and green!!

  • 44.
    Heather H. said…

    Great ideas Ali. I love using all kinds of garbage in my work. Sometimes it feels a little against the grain because the industry is constantly throwing new product at us. It would be great to see companies get away from so much packaging. While it’s all very cute it’s also very wasteful.

  • 45.
    Brittany said…

    Yay for digital scrapbooking! I hadn’t realized how eco-friendly (or unfriendly) scrapbooking could be. Awesomeness. :)

  • 46.
    tami said…

    i made a true scrapbook last weekend…i only used things that i had in the house…scraps.
    i used old cards, paper i had, stamps and punches etc. and i love it b/c i didn’t run to the store. just used all autumn pics of my boys and didn’t get hung up about order. fun! and green!

  • 47.
    Molly said…

    I too participated in blog action day by inviting a visit to previous writings on the subject. If we each consider our own consumption and footprint that is can be found here:

  • 48.
    Molly said…

    oops – something went wrong with my comment (above)

  • 49.
    Sarah said…

    My DH teases me that I kill trees for a hobby (scrapbooking) and for a living (law).
    That said, here are my two cents:
    I try to re-use packaging in my art. Some of it is very snazzy, so why not put it to work? Acetate is trendy right now, and you can use plastic packaging and inserts to achieve that acetate look. Altered items are another great example of reusing packaging. Plus, any packaging you don’t reuse can be usually be recycled along with your paper scraps.
    The use of acid-free archival paper, in theory, should be more environmentally friendly to make than non-archival paper (don’t know for sure, but acid free sounds more “green”). And, at least trees for paper are a renewable resource. Not so sure about the metal used for DH’s golf clubs.
    Finally, consider whether digital really is more environmentally friendly. We’re not just talking about paper and paper production and excess as an issue. Digi-scrapbooking is all about energy usage and the tons of material it takes to produce your laptop or PC. Frankly, it may be a wash or digi-scrapping may have bigger environmental footprint. Trees are renewable in a matter of years. The energy used to power your computer, your lights, and even power equipment that makes paper, is usually derived from a non-sustainable resource like coal. So, do what you enjoy in moderation. I wouldn’t switch to digi thinking it would reduce my environmental footprint, anyway.

  • 50.
    Karen Rangel said…

    I was wondering if recycled paper would harm photos. If so we could still use it on projects without photos!

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