Sustainable art: Another year on howell illustration's sustainable journey

Updated: Apr 22, 2021

And a journey it certainly is. At the end of 2019/beginning of 2020, I succeeded in making all of my products zero waste for the customer, and I also went one better: almost all of my packaging and products are now printed on either environmentally-friendly hemp paper or recycled paper, and my printer is an eco-friendly printer, using vegetable based inks, offering recycled-paper options and posting most of their products wrapped in paper. The problem was: what was coming into my studio (my art supplies and so forth) was often wrapped in plastic.

A recycled paper eco friendly card with a Black fairytale character on it, a fairy
Recycled Paper Card by Howell Illustration

Now, in 2021 I've also finally found an art shop, I think, that is becoming more environmentally aware: Jackson's Art Supplies seems to have switched over to both paper tape and paper packaging, and the recent packet of paintbrushes I bought from there came in 'plastic' actually made from corn starch, which means it is 100% biodegradable (if something is biodegradable, you can either put it in your compost or the normal bin, do not recycle it or it'll ruin the batch). The only issue with that at the moment is that a lot of things seem to be sold out, so I'm going to have to learn how to plan ahead instead of running out and suddenly urgently needing things!

My supplier who makes my poster hangers has also - happily - switched to entirely paper packaging and shipping (on the poster hangers at least, not sure about the other products), all of which gets either re-used or recycled my end, so now I don't have to look for another supplier for those - woohoo!

100% Recycled Paper, sustainable, eco friendly and recyclable letter set by Howell Illustration. Featuring signs of the seasons artwork.
100% Recycled Paper and Recyclable letter set by Howell Illustration

I decided to stop shopping for my ink cartridges with a shop called Cartridge Save, because they would not stop posting me plastic pens free with every single order, no matter how many times I asked them to desist, and that turned out to be rather a good thing, as my new ink cartridge supplier packages and posts their cartridges in cardboard and paper, so no more bubble wrap envelopes for me! And no more plastic packaging around the cartridges themselves, except for the legally necessary safety wrapper.

For the bad news: I still haven't found a triangular postal box supplier that will post me boxes with out wrapping them with copious amounts of plastic, and unfortunately all of my mini frames come to me wrapped in plastic - it's recyclable, but I don't like to stop there, as plastic can't be eternally recycled like paper can, so it will still end up in landfill at some point. I've also just started looking at making products with clay, so I'm starting at the beginning with that.

Signs of Spring artwork, professionally printed on eco friendly hemp paper, by Howell Illustration. Signs of Spring: bulbs, bees and snowdrops
Signs of Spring artwork, professionally printed on eco friendly hemp paper, by Howell Illustration

Last year I was also able to donate £600 to various causes, including Black Lives Matter, Stonewall, The Wildlife Trusts and The Firefighters Charity. This year is looking like it'll be more, which is all thanks to you guys supporting me! And I think I'd like to give to a UK charity called Black Minds Matter, looking into Black mental health in the UK, as well as The Woodland Trust, Stonewall and The Firefighters Charity. I think it's so, so important that equality should be included when talking about sustainability and in a sustainable world, because without equality for everyone, and much more diversity and representation than we currently have, our society is not and will never be sustainable. That's why I will be making regular donations to charities that fight for equality, as well as charities that fight for the wild. I want a better world and I am not afraid of change: bring it on.

I hope this keeps you up-to-date on where I am with my sustainability efforts! Coming up on the blog soon, I'll be chatting about building a sustainable wardrobe and how to make a wildlife pond, so check back if either of those things appeal to you!

Thanks for reading :)


*UPDATE: I was able to donate £100 to Black Minds Matter, £100 to Stonewall, £100 to The Firefighters Charity, and £225 to both The Woodland Trust and The Wildlife Trust

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