Thursday, April 20, 2023

How to Resin the Eco-Friendly Way - Easy Ways to Help Minimise Waste

Green is the new black! 🌎

As we become more aware of our carbon footprint, it's worth looking at how we practice our resin craft, not just for Earth Day, but every day.

In recent times, I've made a number of changes to help reduce waste in my studio. Many of the changes were easy to make. Some of them even saved money!

It all started when I ran out of graduated measuring cups and couldn't get any in a hurry. There was nothing for it; I had to clean the cups I was using so I could mix more resin. It turned out to be so easy. See how to do that here.

I raided the trash bag in my studio for some used cups (and was horrified at how many there were!). I soon discovered that once the resin had cured, it doesn't stick to the type of plastic these cups are made from. They were so EASY to clean that it became my standard practice! 

I didn't originally do this to be planet-friendly, but when I saw how many cups were in my trash bag, I realised I needed to reduce the waste my studio practices were producing. And once I started looking at it from that perspective, it became easier to see other ways I could reduce waste.

Single-use plastics aren't the only thing I eliminated from my studio. 

Here are some other things I changed... and you can too! When we all do these simple and practical things, we CAN make a difference:

1. Re-use Your Cups - this is the easiest place to start

  • Buy cups that are made of polypropylene (they have the number 5 inside the recycling triangle on the bottom of the cup).
  • Or, use silicone cups. Resin doesn't stick to silicone either.

2. Use Re-usable Stir Sticks

There are several options to choose from:
  • Use plastic stirrers and clean them after use. Just wipe them clean with a baby wipe or tissue and denatured alcohol. 
These 5" ones are my favourites. They're long enough to reach inside medium size cups. The added bonus with these stirrers is that they minimise the number of bubbles you incorporate as you mix the resin!
  • Silicone stir sticks are easy to clean. Just let the resin cure and peel it off. They are a more expensive option than the plastic ones but they are longer, so they're good for larger batches of resin.
  • Wooden stir sticks. Most people throw these away after a single use. But you don't have to! You can wipe off the excess resin, let the resin still on the stick cure, and use them repeatedly.

3. Wear Biodegradable Gloves

You need to keep your hands free from sticky resin when you're working with resin and nitrile gloves are the best choice. They are stronger and more chemical resistant than latex gloves but they are designed for single use. 

Throwing away your gloves after each resin session is:
  • costly and wasteful
  • not good for the environment (regular nitrile gloves take years to break down)
  • When they eventually break down, they break up into microplastic particles.

Enter BIODEGRADABLE nitrile gloves!

These are just as strong as regular nitrile gloves but they break down in landfill 90% faster than conventional nitrile gloves and produce a humus-like organic material which is a natural plant fertiliser. How cool is that?!!

This is the type that I use. Don't you just love that they're green!
Pair of hands making a heart shape, wearing green gloves

4. Use Bio-Resin or Acrylic Resin

YES, that's a thing! 
  • Bio-Resins are eco-friendly resins that are formulated from sustainable plant-based materials (renewable resources), or waste products from biofuel production.
They are generally solvent-free with low VOCs. 

There are different formulations for different resin techniques - some have a low exotherm with long cure times so they can be used for deeper pours. Others offer a choice of fast and slow hardeners for different types of resin work.
  • There is also a new generation of water-based acrylic resin that is ideal for making homewares. 
These eco resins are different to epoxy resin. They are a powder-based product that is mixed with a liquid to form an opaque, clay-like finish. You can make terrazzo look-alike items with this kit.

Marbled black and white propogation vase made from Jesmonite sitting next to a tray of 3 black and white votive holders decorated with glass chips

One of the big benefits with eco resins is that they are safe for children to use so you can craft together. They also cure very quickly so children see a quick result.


5. Measure the Resin and Hardener Accurately

It goes without saying that you don't want to waste resin. But if you measure it out inaccurately, you'll get to the bottom of your resin kit and have either resin or hardener left over. With most resins, you can't buy Part A or Part B on their own, so you will have to dispose of the leftover product at a chemical refuse station. 
N.B. Never place resin/hardener in the trash unless it's mixed and cured. 

6. Use Biodegradable Rubbish Bags 

No matter how much we try to eliminate waste from our resin crafting, there will always be some trash to deal with. Here are two rubbish bag options that are considered environmentally friendly:
  • PBAT bags. These are fully compostable. These can hold water without breaking down, yet they will break down in your home compost or landfill in just over 12 months!
  • Plant-based plastic bags (PLA). These are not plastic at all! They are often made of sugar cane waste or corn starch. 
Expert tip: Free up your workspace by securing a rubbish bag with handles in an embroidery hoop and suspend it from your table with tablecloth clips.

Placing a tablecloth clip through the handles of a plastic bag secured in an embroidery hoop to hang from the table

By following these tips, your resin hobby will have a much lower impact on the environment and you can continue to enjoy resin crafting while doing your bit to help the planet. Keep your eyes open for other opportunities to craft more responsibly.

Pin These Eco-Friendly Resin Tips!

Pair of hands wearing green gloves, forming a heart shape. Text overlay reads: Eco-friendly Resin Tips - Simple and Practical Planet-Friendly Ways for Resin Crafters

Happy Resining!

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