Guest Blog: Indie is the new Green by Jessica Gonacha

Howdy indie-lovers! Welcome to post #1 of the new Indie is the New Green column on the Indie Fixx Guest Blog! Let me introduce myself—my name is Jessica Gonacha and I am an artist in Atlanta, Georgia. I originally hail from Boulder, Colorado, which is where my eco-conscious roots were planted. I am an obsessive recycler and as a kid I carried a copy of the book 50 Things Kids Can Do To Save the Earth with me wherever I went. So yes, I am thrilled to be able to share my passion for the environment and all things eco-friendly with you.

This column is going to be a mix of information, including interviews with artists who are setting examples in the world of eco-friendly art and design, resources on how to find more environmentally-friendly materials and supplies, features on green products and the people who make them, and fun DIY projects that you can feel good about creating! There will also be a weekly GREEN CHALLENGE at the end of every post: your task will be to take on the challenge, photograph it and post your photo to the Indie is the New Green Flickr group. I will share some your submissions the following week on the blog! Sounds fun, huh? The challenge details can be found at the end of this post.

So this week, I am pleased to introduce you to an artist from my hometown (shout-out to Boulder!), creating her eco-friendly goods under the name of ReLove Projects. Anne Pendergrast was kind enough to answer some questions for us and give us a little peek into her studio! Here’s what Anne had to say:

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1. What fueled your decision to create eco-friendly products?

I was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, which is a VERY eco-friendly town. Growing up here it was just normal and part of the everyday to recycle, reuse, and be environmentally conscious. That was my foundation. The other part of it was following my passions and creativity. I’ve always had a passion for environmentalism and it just happened naturally that my creativity collided with it.

2. What does ‘green’ mean to you?

‘Green’ to me means doing everything possible to make less of a negative environmental impact.

3. How did you get started creating your product/line?

I love going to thrift stores, finding something unique, and altering it to make it even more unique. I made myself a little purse from a funky 60’s mumu, and got so many compliments that I started making them for other people too. The cards just sort of developed over time. I had a lot of smaller scraps left over from making the bags. I couldn’t throw them away and they kept piling up! I had to find a creative use for them before they took over my studio. I started off by sewing little hearts onto paper, and it grew from there. Now, I have even smaller scraps left over from the cards….

4. How do you reuse materials in your business?

Everything I make is 98% reused (the thread, glue, and some closures are not). My cards are made from paperboard packaging, recycled fabric, and paper grocery bags. All the bags and clothes are made from recycled fabric, and my business cards are made from paperboard and recycled paper. I create my patterns by reusing folders, I take notes on the back of envelopes. I make it a little game to reuse and recycle as much as possible!

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5. How is your studio eco-conscious?

Every piece of furniture in my studio was bought at a thrift store or given to me, the light bulbs are energy efficient, and nearly everything that is discarded in my studio is recycled or reused for some other purpose.

6. Can you share your eco heroes/inspirations and your art/design inspirations?

eco heroes/inspirations
Elephant Journal is a regular inspiration for environmental, political, and spiritual issues. Doing yoga, teaching art to children (at Clementine Studios), and finding recycle symbols in unexpected places help keep me consciously active.

art/design inspirations
Fashion magazines, blogs, Etsy, people watching, dreams, thrift stores, necessity, desire…

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7. Do you have a favorite eco tip for your readers?

If everybody just made a conscious decision to do everything they could to be more eco-friendly, it would make a HUGE impact. Doing something once a day, like changing light bulbs to the more energy efficient or starting a paper recycling box at your office. Every little thing we do makes a positive change, and the more little changes we ALL makes a bigger impact.

8. Do you have a favorite go-to eco blog or website?

I just heard about Green As a Thistle. It’s pretty great! Beyond that, the WWW is such a huge world with so many resources. I like to type key words like “environmental ideas” into a search engine and follow interesting links.

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9. What are some creative ways that you source materials for your work?

In Boulder, I celebrate a thing called “Hippie Christmas” which is basically dumpster diving, but without all the nasty garbage. Boulder is a college town and every spring when classes end, students put everything they don’t want out on the curb. There’s a little bit of everything to be found—clothes, kitchen appliances, sports gear, furniture. Me and my friends make it an event and exchange “gifts” if we find something someone else can use.

10. Where would you like to be with your business this time next year?

By next year, I’d like ReLove Projects less of something I do in my spare time and more of a part-time or full-time endeavor. Right now, I only sell my work on my Etsy site, so I’d like to venture beyond that into stores, craft fairs, and other venues.

12. Anything else you would like us to know about you and your work?

I take custom orders and can take a special piece of clothing and turn into something great!

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GREEN CHALLENGE #1: go on a walk and pick up 5 pieces of litter, draw what you picked up (and recycle it afterwards if possible!), then post your photos to the Indie is the New Green Flickr group. I’ll pick some of your drawings to share and post them next week! One person will be chosen to win a reusable coffee cup sleeve made by Textile Fetish and available for sale in the Indie Fixx Shop!

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