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


  • 51.
    Barb Stewart said…

    Wow! Kudo’s to Chris for a beautiful photo…really quite breathtaking! And, thank-you Ali, for the great “green ideas”! I’m sorry to say that I don’t really think along those lines very often, until someone points them out to me…like you! I’ll really work harder to make some of these better choices from now on!
    Great seeing you, by the way, at CKU Orlando…absolutely LOVED the album class and realize now that I don’t have such a boring life afterall! Hope you enjoy wearing your PEACE bracelet!

  • 52.
    Penny said…

    Great post today. If I have any paper left over from a 12×12 sheet, I cut it into tags and put them into my tag stash for future use. Lately I have been trying to use what I have instead of buying new. I have papers that are several years old and never touched. It’s hard resisting new paper though.
    OFF topic, I came across this mom at etsy and wanted to show you her ribbons.

  • 53.
    Alisa said…

    Loved the photo. We lived in Eugene, for a year and it was beautiful.
    Also, I enjoyed your post. I was thinking about this before I read it, and it went well with what I was going to blog about today.

  • 54.
    Bethany said…

    Great post, Ali. I would love to see the scrapbooking industry to more to go green–especially with packaging.
    I’m trying to be more conscious of my purchases and recycling whatever scraps I don’t save…but I really love how you’ve reduced what cardstock you keep on hand. Maybe I *don’t* need to hoard supplies to rival a local scrapbook store!
    One eco-friendly guy I love is Mr. Ellie Pooh. ( The paper is beautiful, embosses really well, and is made of 75% Sri Lankan elephant dung! And he’s big into supporting local economies.

  • 55.
    alyssa said…

    My first thought when I heard about this topic for Blog Action day was also how to make my scrapbooking have a smaller footprint. I completely agree that every little bit helps – all those small choices matter. Another one that I think matters – make one big purchase when you can rather than lots of online orders or lots of trips to the local scrapbook shop. Reducing the amount of packaging and gas (and maybe even saving a little money now and then).
    I also love the idea of repurposing the stuff of everyday life. Incorporating those “bits & pieces” that you mention is a big one. I also love some of the ways that Donna Downey approaches this – reusing stuff that we don’t normally think of for scrapbooking. In one of my favorite los ever, she made a temporary circle stamp using a paper core (from paper towels or wahtever) dipped in different colors of acrylic paint to create a gorgeous, simple background (I think this was in Simple Scrapbooks sometime last year but don’t quote me on that)…
    So glad to see so many takes on this topic & really loved yours!

  • 56.
    Ele said…

    We have a local paper company here in the Midwest that demonstrates a great commitment to environmentalism–or what they call common-sense-ism :) They have some beautiful papers; not exactly scrapbooking-specific but definitely worth a look…
    Keep up the great work Ali!

  • 57.
    Lusi Austin said…

    Great positive and practical ideas here – thanks Ali for sharing with us :)
    Lusi Austin x

  • 58.
    Eileen said…

    Thanks for the information on the do not mail list. I took this opportunity to sign up.
    Our community already has an extensive recycling program in place, which I fully support.
    I just ordered your latest book and was so surprised at the bonus font you gave us. I look forward to using it.

  • 59.
    lawrenbc said…

    I LOVE THIS POST — I often write about repurposing on my blog
    While at CKU Orlando, I had the Starbucks gal laughing every day when I’d bring in my reusable travel mug. The folks at my LSS know not to put my purchases in a plastic bag because I always have a canvas tote with me instead. Those sorts of little habits not only help reduce waste, they also start up conversations — now each of those people know WHY I do what I do to help the environment, and they are that more likely to make a change themselves.
    – Lawren with a “W”
    P.S. I loved your Week in the Life class!

  • 60.
    Rachel said…

    Someone above mentioned sending their unused product to a classroom, which is great since teachers already have a limited supply of materials to work with on their budgets. I’ve also heard of a girls home that is always looking for scrapbooking items.
    Mercy Ministries
    Attn: Ashley MacLachlan
    15328 Old Hickory Blvd.
    Nashville, TN 37211
    It never hurts to send a RAK of product you think an online friend would enjoy. What about hosting a gathering at your LSS to trade your product with others who are tired of their stuff, too? These would be great ways to recycle your non-paper products, too.
    Thanks for posting about this, Ali.

  • 61.
    Amy Sorensen said…

    I’ve never commented on your blog before, but I wanted to thank you for posting the info about blog action day. I wrote about it on my blog, but I wanted to share this idea with you.
    I try to treat every piece of paper as something precious. One way I do this: I try to never just use one side of a sheet. I keep a basket next to my printer, and if I mess up printing something, I put that sheet in the basket. Then, when I need to test-print something else, I use one of those “used” sheets of paper, either the blank back side or the front. I find I can run one piece of paper (to test print things) through five or six times. Then I recycle it!
    Thanks for a thoughtful entry today.

  • 62.
    Kimberly L.C. said…

    Just wanted to let you know I just watched the first part of a report about the new videos on the Autism Speaks website on ABC’s Nightline.

  • 63.
    Heather said…

    I can tell ya that I am working green here! Lately I have been raiding my stash and using everything I can. I also have a box under my desk where all scraps go and I love to dive into it and use it up! Thanks for taking the time to remind us all of what we can do to help mother earth. I hope that everyone can do something within their power to help!! Hugs! Heather

  • 64.

    Lovin’ all those resolutions, Ali! I am also trying, in my own little way, to save up paper scraps and to incorporate them in my pages!
    Thanks for the reminder!

  • 65.

    Hi Ali,
    I also care about our enviroment as much as possible. Recycling here in Germany is a must, not an option! And I think that is good, because a lot of people don’t see the consequences for our earth and climate.
    I think, I have an interesting link for you: . This company produces paper with vagatable based ink. I have contacted them and am planning to have an artikel about their paper on my blog soon!

  • 66.
    Beth said…

    thanks for letting us know about the donotmail list….we’ve been getting an overabundance of catalogs that I toss everyday….I’d love it if I could just save myself from even feeling guilty about that waste….thanks!

  • 67.
    Shari M said…

    You are such an inspiration, Ali. Thank you for making me think and for sharing your wonderful thoughts and ideas.

  • 68.
    Deborah P said…

    This post definitely resounded with me since I recycle as much as I can in my non-scrapbooking life and have found that even the smallest of scraps can be put to good and attractive use in a mini-album or on a page.
    A good example of “green” recycling in scrapbooking, is a class that Shelley Burkett taught recently at my LSS, Scrap, Etc., in Hoover, AL. The class was “Getting Creative with Trash” and the projects included making a scrap trash can to corral all those bits to be reused, making a dry erase/corkboard out of an Autumn Leaves clear stamp clamshell (talk about the ultimate in recycling packaging!), making a shadowbox out of a deep software package, making a tag book out of product tags and packaging and using corrugated cardboard on a layout. All of which projects were not only “green,” they were things that you would be PROUD to give someone or use in your home.
    Thanks to you (and Shelley) for reminding us we can be responsibly “green” while enjoying our craft.

  • 69.
    windy said…

    I have been thinking alot more about this lately. My son is five and he knows more about recycling than I did at twenty. (I’m 40is now) Thank goodness we are becoming more aware and starting to take action. I think it is important for us to teach our children now so it will be a mere habit for them. I read the worsted witchs blog and loved the e-cuts idea. Definately will be ordering those. Thanks for helping us all to see how we can apply the “three R’s” to our wonderful hobby/job/life.:)

  • 70.
    katie scott said…

    I’ve been thinking that there should be a green style “SCRAP SWAP” place / blog / i don’t know, but something where everyone could get rid of their old supplies and get new (to them) ones – like you send in 10 pieces of paper & you get back 5 or something like that, kind of like a consignment shop for scrapbooking. I’m not sure how to organize this or how it would make money for the person or company doing it, but I think all scrapbookers would love a great way to get rid of old supplies and get suprises in the mail. Also it could be linked with a donation to school art programs so part of what you send in gets donated & the other part gets recycled to other scrapbookers.

  • 71.
    Erin B said…

    Great ideas and information Ali. I’ve always been a big recycler and recycle our use up every bit of my scrap paper and packaging. Compact flourescent light bulbs are a good idea, just want to make sure you know they contain mercury, which is not an issue unless they get broken, in which case precautions need to be taken. They are also considered household hazardous waste and some web sites recommended not throwing them away in your regular trash and instead saving them and taking them to sites that collect community household hazardous waste. This would prevent them from being incinerated, which would release mercury into the environment.
    Thanks for you post and I’m off to check out the do not mail list.

  • 72.
    Stephanie said…

    Hence the recycled AC ribbon spools :p It’s not much, but I try.

  • 73.
    Stephanie said…

    Hey Ali,
    Thanks for the great post. I hadn’t heard about Blog Action Day and I was excited to blog about it as well after reading your post.
    Great inspiration and ideas on how to make scrapbooking greener.
    I love, love, love your blog!

  • 74.
    Tara Whalen said…

    Hey there- I really am glad that you touched on this subject. The more we talk about it, the more it makes sense in our lives.
    I am concerned about the new light bulbs though. They are great at conserving energy, but they contain mercury. Disposal of them is a real problem. We need to find better ways to combat that problem, before we find ourselves in a real fix when the first major wave of these bulbs burn out.
    Thanks again

  • 75.
    Jill said…

    Ali, What about all of the Christmas wrapping paper that gets thrown away? Not sure how to get around that. Decorating newspapers to wrap in would be fun but the ink would rub off. Santa doesn’t wrap here so we must have a green santa!

  • 76.
    Kathleen4444 said…

    I digital scrapbook. All of my supplies are on my computer. So, no scrapbook room in my world. All of my scrapbooking supplies are backed up on just a handful of CDs. I haven’t even printed the pages yet. No need of yet.My family and I look at my (low-res) pages on my online galleries and full-size on my home computer. I love that I don’t have to worry about pages getting damaged by eager kids. (I like that I’ll be able to have copies of each page I plan to eventually print and give away. I LOVE that I am not buying more supplies than I could possible use. Digital scrapbooking is green. I’m pretty certain that I will never again paper scrap. -Kathleen4444

  • 77.

    ali… great reminders! i’ve been thinking about this myself lately… after “having to have” all the latest papers for instance, many of which have not been used. thanks for bringing this up and for the great tips!

  • 78.
    Mary Thomas said…

    Hey Ali … you read my mind! My entry at CKU orlando (which I forgot at home…oops) was the plight of the great apes, & how I feel like a hypocrite because I am active in saving them, yet scrapbook, therefore participate in “paper waste”. In class I questioned Kelli and was delighted to find out **BAZZIL** uses recyled paper, replants trees, etc etc etc … I plan on going to their website to get all the details. Major kudos to them! I now plan on doing research and focusing my scrapbooking dollars on companies that are “aware” & Care :) I loved your tips, thanks … and also … thanks for a album class that ROCKED! Loved it! Sorry its over for others but I’m sure you’ll have something just as wonderful for us down the line!

  • 79.
    Alicia said…

    Ali, I’ve been pondering this for the last year…and working hard at integrating it into my projects. Timely post. Looking forward to meeting you this weekend in Salem.

  • 80.
    Sasha said…

    Rhetorical question: Can you consider yourself an environmentalist if you find loopholes to continue what you are doing that is anti-environment? Let’s continue to amass scrapbook supplies pimped by Creating Keepsakes, but reduce that Carbon Basic Grey footprint by recyling? I get what you are saying about choice and balance, but the message becomes muddied when we continue to promote excess as long as you try to reduce that carbon footprint excess.

  • 81.

    Thanks for this post, Ali! I look forward to reading all your readers responses for even more ideas.

  • 82.
    MariaM said…

    thanks – great list and links!! — this is something I have been bringing to my scrapbooking habits as well. All those pretty digital papers really do offer a great alternative – I like printing mine out too. Sometimes my child’s classroom can use all the pretty scraps for their “art center” and along the way I have found other companies that offer earth friendly papers. Sometimes they say they do, but read the info/small print. {google: earth friendly stationery}
    one is
    and browse under the “eco collection” — okay it isn’t cheap, but my favorite is Gmund Blanc BierPapier Designer Pad….made with beer labels…12×16 size, cool earthy colors, and it says pH neutral. Is that the same as acid-free? what is the difference?
    others on the site are acid-free or manufactured with a sustainable process. Not a scrapbooking site, but more of a stationery and art supply site. :) maria

  • 83.
    Deborah P said…

    Sasha, your question is a tough one and something we all should consider. Most of us could do better and sometimes posts like this one and the comments to it encourage people to do better. Like lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness.
    I’m not an ‘environmentalist.’ I admire people who can live mostly or totally green, but I don’t do that. I’m merely trying to balance my consumerism with common sense and an awareness that there are things I can and should do to reduce my own excess and encourage others to do so as well. Ali can speak for herself, but that’s the way I read her post – as trying to do better, but being realistic as well.

  • 84.
    ady abreu said…

    great post… thanks for all the ideas. We’ve started doing a lot of this at home and I love the idea of the recycle bin in my scrap room. I had a great time in your class and can’t wait to take a class with you next year…

  • 85.
    Chris said…

    Fantastic photo! Great ideas for recycling. I only buy refillable adhesive. I hate the ones where you have to have a new plastic holder for every 200 yards of double-sided adhesive.

  • 86.
    Kelly said…

    You and I seem to be running parallel lives lately with our thought processes! Your last newsletter resonated with me big-time, and this blog entry does, too, with a twist. I’ve been thinking lately about the amount of craft stuff I have and buy in relation to my conscience over social justice concerns, mainly poverty. As in, is it really okay to keep buying stuff I really don’t need when there is so much heart-wrenching poverty in the world? I am constantly evaluating this…what is reasonable and what is excess. Scrapbooking is a valuable use of time as are other crafty endeavors, I believe. But where is the balance? That’s what I’m working on. Thanks for sharing what you’re working on.

  • 87.
    Annie said…

    Love your ideas, Ali! Doesn’t reusing, recycling and repurposing stretch your mind and creativity?

  • 88.
    misti said…

    great post! I would love to see more “made from recycled materials” in scrapbook stores. I think eventually it will move in that direction. It’s amazing how much the organic explosion has happened in the past five years. Little bitty steps.

  • 89.
    AmyInKy said…

    Carrie Postma started a new paper company this year, Paper Trunk. Her website is She currently has two lines, Gigi and Batik, but is releasing new product around the beginning of the year. Wonderful paper. Wonderful person behind them. :)

  • 90.
    Angela U. said…

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention! Though we have long been recycling normal household materials as a family, it had never crossed my mind to recycle paper in my studio. This afternoon, I set up a small studio recycling station.
    An added bonus…my daughter’s school participates in a program where the school actually earns money from recycled paper products. So not only am I helping with the environment, but by taking my paper to the designated school dumpster, I am earning money for a fine institution.
    Thank you Ali for all of your inspiration everyday!

  • 91.
    Aimee said…

    Thanks for the gorgeous picture. And I appreciate your comments about green scrapbooking. I’ve also been trying to work this into my life, but I hadn’t thought about SBing until now. There is definitely lots of room for improvement.
    I never had the chance to attend your CKU album track. Will you turn this into a book?
    Finally, I’m currently working my way through your Life Artist book. I love your style and your focus on the pictures and memories. This is what I think scrapbooking should be.

  • 92.
    Sarah said…

    I believe Bazzill uses some post-consumer recycled material, and they produce their paper (exc. for the bling line) in the US – which also means less fuel needed to transport the product. It’s not just the product but how it gets to us that has an impact on the environment.
    Another, non-scrapbooky way to ‘go green’ is to eat as much locally produced food as possible. There has been a BIG push for that in our area (southern VT) this year; getting schools to buy more local produce, getting more private and community gardens going, celebrating a “Producer of the Month” thru the local co-op.
    I have found ways to use the packaging materials from my sb stash. I use the hard plastic packaging w/my MM tag maker (like the stuff the tag refills are sold in). The clear plastic becomes the ‘front’ of a layered tag, trapping little stuff inside. Or make stencils from packaging material.

  • 93.
    Andrea Venn said…

    I think the attention/pressure should be focused on the manufacturers. Of course I recycle my scraps and I have yet to meet a scrapbooker who was not frugal who her beloved supplies. I also know that the, well, frivolous embellishments will at least be in my family for years via my scrapbook pages. My point being that I think the solution to this industries contribution to global warming is by slowing down the marketing machine and making manufacturers go green. That will make the major change.
    Being that the scrapbooking industry is in a pivotal period and you have some insight/influence I am glad to see this issue being addressed.
    Thank You,
    Andrea Venn

  • 94.
    Emily said…

    Great information! I have been building a business and making every effort to be as environmental friendly as possible. I have been looking for “green” scrapbooking products, but not found any yet.
    I also am a photographer and I found this 100% post-consumer recycled content photo matte inkjet paper. It’s no more expensive than photo paper you would buy at one of the office stores and it’s just as nice, if not better. Check out this link,
    I love it!

  • 95.
    Donald said…

    We can save a lot of trees by using our own coffee cups instead of using paper coffee cups provided at the coffee shops that are related to melamine poisoning.
    For more information, visit

  • 96.
    kermit said…

    It’s been about 3 1/2 months since Blog Action Day. It’s hard to measure the impact, but I am seeing some of my friends in my industry blog more about “green” building materials.
    I might be an odd bird, but I am a Minneapolis real estate agent who thinks that people should consider building their homes out of dirt.
    Here’s a post I wrote about the wonders of building with “cob.” Please share it with your readers any way you wish. I would like to provoke some thinking about this idea.

  • 97.
    kermit said…

    It’s been about 3 1/2 months since Blog Action Day. It’s hard to measure the impact, but I am seeing some of my friends in my industry blog more about “green” building materials.
    I might be an odd bird, but I am a Minneapolis real estate agent who thinks that people should consider building their homes out of dirt.
    Here’s a post I wrote about the wonders of building with “cob.” Please share it with your readers any way you wish. I would like to provoke some thinking about this idea.

  • 98.
    Ruth Vandenbor said…

    Hi Ali,
    I’m so glad I found your site; you are one of the few out there informing and educating scrapbookers about environmental issues. I have just launched my own line of environmentally-friendly scrapbooking paper: Scrap Naturally! International shipping is a major source of environmental air and water pollution, yet tons of scrapbooking paper is milled in Asia from North American pulp and then shipped back to North America to consumers. Asian paper mills are also a major source of environmental damage. Scrap Naturally paper is milled in North America from North American trees at a paper mill with a strong environmental policy. The paper is printed in Chilliwack British Columbia (where I live) and then sold directly to scrapbooking consumers via the internet. The paper is 30% post-consumer fiber, acid-free and lignin-free. Packaging is minimal and uses recycled packaging whenever possible.
    I am also interested in education and offer tips on using scrapbooking in the classroom.
    Hope you will let your readers know about my efforts!

  • 99.
    Traci Smith said…

    I just saw that K & Company has a line of recycled paper products…recycled paper packs,etc.

  • 100.
    Laurel Martinez said…

    Hi Ali,
    This may be a little late but I’m a Close to my Heart consultant and there was an article in our last Company Newsletter about being green. As far as you wanting to use products from “green” companies, per the newsletter
    1) all CTMH paper and cardstock are SFI (sustainable forestry initiative) certified.
    2)They use enviromentally conscious vendor. The printer utilizes wind power in their factory. The company that manufactures the albums reuses the shipping boxes. (they send the box of albums and CTMH sends the box back and they reuse them)
    3) My Acrylix stamps uses soap and water soluble chemicals
    4) over 80% of the waste produced at CTMH is recyclable.
    I didn’t even know this when I signed up and am so happy to represent a environmentally friendly company. Keep up the good work!

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