currents

My stuff, your art

Faith Santoro’s RecycleYourGear is for artists who want to be sustainable and people with repurposable items to sell

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 5/26/21

GLEN SPEY, NY — “Artists are aware of how their work impacts the world,” said Faith Santoro.

Santoro, an artist herself, just launched RecycleYourGear, a site and service that …

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currents

My stuff, your art

Faith Santoro’s RecycleYourGear is for artists who want to be sustainable and people with repurposable items to sell

Posted

GLEN SPEY, NY — “Artists are aware of how their work impacts the world,” said Faith Santoro.

Santoro, an artist herself, just launched RecycleYourGear, a site and service that lets you sell or buy used things. It’s a place that allows her to embrace her twin goals of sustainability in art and affordability in marketing.

“It’s like a giant yard sale or flea market,” she said. “It’s for people who are into repurposing things we can use as artists that will protect the environment.”

Santoro started thinking about sustainability when a friend became ill. The medications weren’t helpful. “It was a gradual process,” she said. “I looked for a natural way.” That led to thinking about the situation more broadly. “Environmental triggers, food, water... are they emitting chemicals? I started being more aware” of how the environment was being degraded.

Even in art.

Art is about the message and the materials used. But those materials can be chemical (consider paint or glues) or made in non-eco-friendly ways. The fashion industry is often excoriated for exploiting workers and pushing the growth of non-organic cotton. Some fabrics are made from non-natural materials.

“Most art materials available for purchase in big box stores are not sustainable,” Santoro said. Customers’ focus on sustainable materials is something “more vendors are becoming aware of and trying to supply” but those materials still aren’t the norm.

It’s costly, one vendor told her.

Times are changing, though. People care. “The younger generation has pushed to be sustainable” and that’s trickling down through the artistic world. The landscape is changing. “Upcycling is one avenue that has gained traction,” she said. “It is simply taking previously used, unwanted materials and creating something new.”

Take, for instance, plastic milk jugs. Jewelry designers do. “Instead of buying and using new plastics to make earrings, an artist can cut out their designs from old milk jugs and create beautiful pieces.” (Look at milk jug earrings on Pinterest for the sheer scope of what can be done with your used thing of milk.)

There’s much more that a sustainability-minded artist can do. “Think about the materials you use,” Santoro said. “Individual artists need to do their research and source companies that have the materials they need that fits within their budget.”

Sustainable art can be cost-effective, too. “Resources can be found in... landfills, junkyards, the woods and, sometimes, even on the side of the road.” Being creative and using what we have “goes a long way to helping preserve our environment.”

You can buy eco-friendly canvas, which Santoro uses in her own work.

There is also the consideration of art as symbol. “Sustainability with art means artists are aware of, create with and keep in mind the wider impact their work has in relation to the environment,” she said. Not just what you use, but what you say with your work. “We can inspire others to make the changes.”

Which means that, in some ways, RecycleYourGear could be a community. It “was created to help bring together all people,” she said, “who are conscious about the environment and believe sustainable practices are a priority.”

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