June 14, 2024

How releasing our ‘inner artist’ can help keep us calm

Top tip? Start small, says Rota. “Raid family cupboards for vintage plates or source from a car boot [sale]. Decorate them with cut-out images from gardening magazines or old field guides. Use a decoupage or PVA glue to stick them on (careful not to use too much, or it will smear) and then carefully paint a coat on top to seal. They make great presents, particularly if the china holds memories.” Others are using their crafting skills to make a statement, for example protesting against fast fashion, giving rise to a global craftivist movement of “gentle activism”.  

Another tip is to use what you already have. Mary Morton runs a group called the Edinburgh Street Stitchers, volunteers who sit in the parks and streets of Edinburgh, and offer advice on repairing the clothes to passers-by. When she appeared on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour recently, this was her first piece of advice: “Many people have a wardrobe full of clothes and they’ll never wear half of them. I did what they call ‘shopping in your own wardrobe’. If I had two T-shirts that were very similar, I’d put one aside. If I feel like something fresh, I can go to the pile of items I’ve put aside.” Morton has not bought clothes for five years after becoming concerned about the impact of textiles on the environment.

Stepping back from your next impulse purchase starts by asking yourself why you want it in the first place. Aghaji used to shop fast fashion “because I was so depressed about the climate crisis, and I’d think, I need a treat,” she says. “A large part of consumerism is fuelled by the fact that we’re deeply unhappy. Often, [shopping] is about finding ways to make ourselves feel whole again.” Turning down the white noise of social media will help. In the now seminal text Less is More: How Degrowth will save the World, ecological economist Jason Hickel turns a highly critical eye to the vehicles that create and reinforce a narrative of consumption.

The power of imagination

Of course, creativity comes in all forms. If – as author Amitav Ghosh has claimed –  the climate crisis is a crisis of the imagination, then creativity could be its most robust retort.

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