It seems obvious that a ceramic mug will be more environmentally friendly than a disposable cup, but there will still be an impact on our world from any item we produce. I am making an effort to reduce my personal impact, but I don’t have a good solution to all of the issues.
On the plus side, I work from home, meaning that I don’t produce vehicle fumes on my way to work, and I am also in walking distance of my local Post Office, so there is no fuel used there either.
I purchase clay and food safe glaze from online pottery stores. There are issues with the way some of the chemicals are mined and produced, although most of them are mined for other industrial purposes which hugely overshadow the amounts used for pottery.
My studio process includes the collection of scrap clay and failed, unfired pots to reprocess into usable clay, and I endeavour to avoid putting any clay residue into my home drainage system. My glaze brushes are washed in a series of water pots to remove as much glaze as possible from them before being rinsed under the tap, and the residue in these pots is either recycled as ‘surprise’ glaze or fired into failed pots to enable safe disposal.
I do use vinyl stencils to add images to some pots, which produces many small scraps of vinyl. I collect these scraps for disposal inside used glaze pots in the hope that this causes the least risk to the environment. Where possible I use other more biodegradable material for my stencils.
My pots are bisque fired and glaze fired in a Rohde Ecotop 60 kiln, which is very well insulated and power efficient and is of a size that enables me to fill it efficiently as a home potter.
My pottery is posted out using re-used or recycled cardboard boxes and protected with re-used, recycled, or if new then bio-degradable padding. The exception to this at present is my mugs, which will be packed in inflatable plastic mug protectors while I still have stocks of these.
I have switched to using paper parcel tape, but still have stocks of plastic ‘Fragile’ tape and clear adhesive tape to use up before switching to an alternative.