A plastic hobby: confession time

I have a confession. I have over 50 tubes made of plastic. I touch it. Keep it in a box. These tubes are really special to me. The tubes house a very important part of my life; something that makes me so happy. They contain paint, glorious paint....acrylic paint, to be more precise.

When I was a little girl of 5, I wanted to be one of three things; an archaeologist, painter or writer. As I grew up I continued to paint and write. I kept up my love for archaeology through history subjects. I moved away from writing and focused solely on creating art and delving into design. Post high school I applied for spots at various Universities in design, art and archaeology. I decided to go down the design path. I thought I would keep archaeology for my mid-life crisis (sooo looking forward to my mid-life crisis!) and art as a hobby. I figured design would afford me more adventure and a stable career (which is has and I am grateful for). In every house I have occupied since I was a teenager there has sat an easel and a box of paints in my room. Except London... but I carried watercolours and pencils with me. I will happily admit that creating art is my meditation. I love it and I love what I create.

My favorite paint is acrylic. Each tube of acrylic paint is kept in a plastic tube. And the affordable canvas is shrink wrapped in plastic. I have not bought any new paint or canvas boards since I declared in July 2013 that I would not buy new virgin plastic (unless it was for medical reasons). And to be truthful I have never touched my paints because of this. I felt guilty that I had such a large box of plastic.

Recently I unpacked my trusted easels, boxes of paints and rows of paint brushes & palate knives. I wanted to paint my dear friend a special artwork for her first home. So I swallowed my guilt and began painting.

And it felt good.

I was not going to admit any of this. But I am choosing to be open and honest. I guess I want others who have stumbled across my blog to know that my sustainable life is not always running on a straight and easy road. I hit speed bumps and there a bends that come out of nowhere. I could have ignored my box of paint and sold my easel.

I have other artsy materials like pencils, watercolours, oil paints and pastels. But I have always had a soft spot for the acrylics. Each time I open the box I look down at them and think to myself 'what am I going to do when you all run out?'

Apart from the plastic there is another environmental side effect...washing my brushes in water which results in chemicals rolling down the sink? It gets treated but still it's not something I should become lax about. That is not kind living at all.

I genuinely believe that when I am questioning anything I already know the answer, I just don't want to admit it. And the solution (that I don't want to hear but know I have to) is simply not buy paint in this form anymore. Instead use up what I have, say my goodbye.

I will move onto my pencils, watercolours, oil paints and pastels I have. I will create art using these materials instead and on more eco-friendly surfaces. I don't know what I will do with the empty tubes when all the colours have run out. When all are empty I will exhaust search engines, emailing manufactures and recycling companies to find a solution then. Just not know.

Until then I will just enjoy the time I have left with my tubes of paint. This is not the only artistic outlet that comes in plastic that I used to really enjoy. I used to have a love for disposable cameras. And I still have a love for my Lomo 360 Spinner. The body is made of plastic and so is the film inside it. That has been tucked away in and I have not touched it since last year either.

Thanks for reading while I continue to plough through this move to a more sustainable and simple life. Your support and insight makes it easier. If you have any solutions on what I can do with my paint tubes once they are empty, hit me up below.

Do you have a hobby that is predominantly plastic? Or not so good for the environment?


  1. Erin, what a difficult situation! One idea I had is that you could ask for people to donate unwanted acrylics for you to use. I imagine there are thousands of tubes languishing in people's cupboards - so wasteful for them not to be used. It would be pro-active to write to companies and see if they can solve the packaging problem. We are reaching a point in history where businesses need to be responsible for what they create - we don't want to deny anyone their living, or stop people making art, just be open to doing it in a more sustainable manner. I don't see why the paint couldn't come in glass jars.

    You're wonderful - good luck with this one :)


    PS I'm a pianist and teacher by profession and one day I'll need a new piano - they have plastic keys these days. Preferable to ivory, but not ideal. Perhaps I could start writing letters in anticipation.

    1. Yes collecting from other would be a good idea. One thing i am worried about are the chemicals so i would like to move towards paints that have less chemicals. And you are right, there would have to be paints out there in glass jars. I will have a look over the next couple months.

      With regards to your piano (btw. very jealous you can play the piano!) could you try wood? It's a bit annoying how plastic pops up in different places that we forget about.

      You are wonderful too and thanks for you all your support. I hope you have a happy Christmas and new year Madeleine. x

  2. I make hand made cards. Friends and family love to receive them. I live in outback Queensland with no bulk stores or any recycling. I have enough supplies to last a while. I think everyone needs a hobby. It's good for you. Just be aware and buy the least wasteful you can. Art not only benefits you, but many people who see your work as well. Thank you for your blog. I've only just found it, and it's helping me a lot. I'm 58 and changing long term habits is a challenge!

    1. Hi Robin, welcome :) It's nice to meet another with a love for craft based hobbies on the journey to reducing waste. I agree, having a hobby is beneficial. And there are many different ways to continue a hobby creating less waste.


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