Pottery is an art form loved by millions the world over. But there are lots of environmental issues including where you source your clay, the high-energy use of a kiln, to potters that may use animal products for glazes or paintbrushes. And the packaging that potters send their gifts.
If using pottery vases to display plants, see toxic plants to avoid near pets (and toxic houseplants including sago palm, lilies and cheese plants). Never place foliage near windows, to help stop birds flying into windows.
Oxford Clay has a fabulous post on making pottery more sustainable, from using an energy-efficient kiln and using green energy, to slow air-drying, using wastewater to clean and reclaiming clay. There are also e-books you can download on ways to be a greener potter and make animal/planet-friendly glazes. The e-book also includes:
- 1 stoneware casting recipes with paperclay, to prevent cracking
- 4 stoneware temperature g laze recipes (including one made with wood ash, one recipe for raw glazing and one coloured naturally, without use of iron oxides)
- 16 case studies of eco-friendly pottery practices
- An easy summary of 30 ways to green your pottery studio
Unique Pottery Gifts from Dartmoor
Habulous offers a beautiful ethical homewares brand, focusing on gorgeous hand-thrown pottery, made in England’s smallest national park of Dartmoor in Devon. Thoughtfully designed to stand the test of time, clay is turned into something to be treasured for years to come. Each small item is unique, and accompanying cards are printed on sustainable paper, and wrapped in biodegradable starch cello pockets.
If using planters, avoid toxic plants near pets (including sago palm, lilies and cheese plants). Never foliage near garden views, to help stop birds flying into windows.
Pottery Using Recycled Clays & Glazes
Mining china clay leaves 9 tons of waste behind for every ton extracted, and toxic metal glazes means that once fired in a kiln, the clay can never be used again, nor can it biodegrade.
ZAN + ME is a little company making beautiful ceramics with flora and fauna images, created by a potter and her illustrator daughter. This eco business uses recycled clays and glazes, and the kiln is powered by solar energy. Ideal long-term companions to bring a little elegance and slowness to busy lives. Sent in plastic-free packaging. Above are beautiful tumblers, an ideal gift for your zero waste friend.
Liverpool’s Granby Workshop is England’s first company to offer tableware made from recycled ceramics. All the speckles in the items are made from broken pottery, crushed glass and ‘factory sludge. Likewise, Studio ThusThat has turned the factory sludge into tableware, with their famed Red Mud Tableware (the red colour is from bauxite residue).
Experts say greener potters can use green energy to fire their kilns, recycle all unused clay, and use/recycle natural glazes (dispose unused glazes in landfill, and not down the sink if they are not biodegradable). This is also good for the health of potters, to avoid toxic fumes from manganese dioxide and lead etc. You can reuse broken pottery and shards to make mosaic tiles and other pretty things.