Is Crafting With Resin Sustainable?
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How Environmentally Friendly Is Resin? What to Know About the Popular Crafting Material

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Apr. 6 2021, Updated 4:56 p.m. ET

It should come as no surprise that many people who live sustainably also tend to dabble in DIY projects. After all, you sometimes have to get creative to find more sustainable solutions to everyday products. Especially during the pandemic, many zero-wasters also have taken up do-it-yourself hobbies like macrame, knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching, sculpting, or even making their own jewelry, keychains, and whatever else with resin. But is crafting with resin truly sustainable?

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While we may think of do-it-yourself projects as largely sustainable, it really depends on the materials used. With all things, if it’s virgin materials we’re talking about, it may not the most eco-friendly option. However, if you’re upcycling or using secondhand materials – like resin made from recycled materials – it's definitely a greener option. Keep reading for the full low-down on resin.

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What is resin?

Popular in arts and crafts spaces, resin is an organic liquid that requires a hardener to create a plastic-like material, according to Resin-Expert.com. Resin is often used to make durable castings, floors, and countertops; but in the do-it-yourself world, you can make just about anything with resin or epoxy resin: jewelry, coasters, ashtrays, dog tags, keychains, bookmarks, hair clips, encased dried and pressed flowers, and more.

Essentially, there is eco-friendly resin and there is non-eco-friendly resin. Some resins are synthetic — these are not eco-friendly, nor are they biodegradable. These synthetic resins, according to ExpandUsCeramics.com, are made from fossil fuels and as such, have to be treated and used very carefully (as in if burned improperly, they release toxins into the atmosphere).

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Is resin biodegradable?

That said, eco-friendly resin exists, and some of it is recyclable. Black resin from Terra Cast, for example, is made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled materials. The site says, “Regardless [of] if the starting materials are recycled or not, our resin begins in pellet form as small chunks of Linear Low-Density Polyethylene. We get recycled resin from manufacturers such as Dow Chemicals and Exxon Mobile."

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This resin is made from recyclables and is recyclable itself. It’s also meant to be extremely durable, so it lasts a long life before having to be recycled, and harms absolutely no natural resources. That said, though, it isn't biodegradable.

In fact, most resin isn’t biodegradable. But that’s not to say that biodegradable resin does not exist — you just have to look for it. After all, in 2011, chemists developed a synthetic resin that was 100 percent biodegradable and recyclable, made from non-toxic and non-hazardous raw materials. How about that?

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There are other sustainable alternatives to resin.

If you are looking to craft with resin or resin-like materials, there are a few more sustainable alternatives for you to consider. Ecopoxy is a bio-based, plant-based epoxy “resin” specifically (and sustainably) made for woodworking. 

As mentioned above, the Terra Cast resin is another sustainable option as all of its colors are made from mostly recycled materials and its black resin is made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled materials. Other resin substitutes include hard plaster or concrete (if you’re casting), alabaster, slush latex, or metal. But when it comes to ethics and sustainability, each material comes at (some kind of) cost, and requires additional research.

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