It seems that every day we need to consider more closely our environmental impact and how we can make our working and home lives more sustainable. I hope that I am producing ceramic pieces that will be treasured and valued. The handcrafted nature means that the items clearly show the hand of the maker and I really feel that some of the love and attention that goes into making these pieces will make the items a pleasure to use and own in everyday life. I don’t really have things for best in my house but prefer to enjoy the good life every day that I can. The architect Berthold Lubetkin said that ‘Nothing is too good for ordinary people’ and I firmly believe that your surroundings and the objects you live with can bring you comfort in your home.
I am really careful when I pack the kiln to get the best use from the space and will only fire the kiln when it is full. A few months back I switched to 100% renewable energy for my electricity supply which although it costs a little more feels like the right thing to do. Electricity is all mixed together on the National Grid and I don’t have my own windmill or solar panels, so I think there is some kind of offsetting going on, but I feel it’s a step in the right direction. I also invested in a new super efficient kiln last year that is so much more reliable and economical than the old kiln. Like most ceramicists I recycle all the scraps of clay, offcuts and those pots that go wrong before they even get to the firing.
As much as possible I use recycled packaging. This does mean that the boxes that come out to you with your lovely new ceramics in might not be the most beautiful boxes in the parcel van but it does mean that the packaging is reused. I reuse bubble wrap and paper and cardboard boxes mostly. I have always got my eyes open for a handy bit of packaging and keep a store of materials for packaging that can be reused and repurposed. As well as being kinder to the environment and saving waste, it also helps to keep costs down.
When I am travelling about to shows and fairs I do have to use the family vehicle to carry all my ceramics, the show stand and sometimes even camping equipment as well. I do also use the car when I am collecting clay or glaze supplies from Heskeths Potters Supplies in Seaford, which is my local pottery supplier, however I try to combine it in with another journey to keep the mileage down, and to order in bulk if possible. When I am nipping down to my local post office to send off orders I tend to use ‘Miss Grace’ my rather fabulous electric delivery bike. I do have a conventional bike as well, but ‘Miss Grace’ is so easy to ride, especially with a heavy load, and has a fantastically practical carrying rack on the front, and a special lock that holds the front rack in place for loading and unloading. Also I am more inclined to enjoy the ride on ‘Miss Grace’ rather than think ‘sod it’ and just get in the car instead. ‘Miss Grace’ is from Easy Pedal Bikes in Eastbourne.
In an effort to reduce our plastic use we have moved back to using good old fashioned bar soap, and in the process discovered just how many lovely soaps there are out there. Of course this has also given me the opportunity to make some new soap dishes, and to have a bit of fun with trying out designs. I have some new dishes which are a bit glamorous based on the shell range with copper bronze highlights in metal lustre. The surface is raised so that it can lift the soap a little, to keep it a bit drier and also the shape is curved to stop the soap bar falling off and to help the water run off too. I also have some little dishes and the ceramic shells which could be used for soaps as well.
Considering the environment does not mean you have to totally deny yourself pleasures and it is the case that it is better that we all do what we can rather than that a few people carry the burden for everyone.