Taking a brief break from listing the new batch of tails up on Etsy to write this out.
The "green" in The Green Wolf isn't just a pretty color. I do try to balance out the needs of my art and creativity with eco-friendly practices. I was thinking about all the little things I do just in the process of making and selling tails to try to reduce my environmental impact.
First, the tails themselves. Most of them are fur industry discards; you can't really make a coat out of tails, and you can only use so many for trim. So they're generally gathered and sold to crafters; in the past couple of years fox tails in particular have become trendy and a lot of people have jumped on the bandwagon, though they've been popular among pagans and Rennies (and I've been selling them to such) for much longer than that. This means that at least they haven't been thrown out or tossed in an incinerator as waste. I buy the tails in bulk, not just to save shipping costs, but to require fewer shipments and the resources involved.
I do sometimes get individual tails secondhand, whether vintage or from someone's private collection, but most of them are reclaimed rather than properly secondhand. (I've discussed the boundaries of what's secondhand more in detail here.)
Next, the attachments. I make tails with braided leather belt loops, with carabiners with leather reinforcement, and long braided leather belts. I use almost exclusively secondhand leather for this; the back closet of our apartment has several bins full of old leather coats and other clothing. I will occasionally make a belt out of deerskin if it needs to be more loadbearing, as with the red fox ninetails set here. The only new components are the carabiners, and that's only because I haven't found a source for strong secondhand ones. Unfortunately they're also made in China which means transocean shipping, but the only made in USA carabiners I've found are those for climbing and they're several dollars each (and too heavy for tails). Fur and leather scraps left over from trimming either ends up used as craft scrap, or the really little bits end up as pillow stuffing.
The leather is stitched on with artificial sinew or a similarly strong thread, which I buy new, though I have occasionally gotten some secondhand, either from someone's destash or a thrift stores. Sometimes I'll put a piece of sinew through more than one use--for example, using a piece to bind together two things while the glue sets between them, and then using the sinew for sewing. I also re-use all the ends of the sinew; longer ends are used to tie on price tags, while the smaller bits go into the pillow stuffing bag.
Once the tails are done, it's time for what I'm doing now--listing them online! I'm at a computer which I did buy brand-new, though I keep my computers forever (rather than upgrading every six months). I recently switched over to Green Source and Habitat Support, two of the green options available through my local power company. (If you're in Portland, BTW, and haven't signed up for these, I strongly recommend it--for a two bedroom apartment, even in the coldest winter here, it'll only add about $9 at the most to the bill, and much less in summer.)
While the price tags I designed for my art are printed on new paper, I reuse them many times. I'll send them with the art through the mail instead of a business card, but with in-person events I take the tag back and reuse them. Sometimes the backs can be fairly scribbled upon, but you get the idea! A tag may be reused several times before it ends up shipped off to retire as a business card substitute; I've yet to put one in the recycling that I can remember.
The tails are usually shipped in USPS priority mailers, which meet Cradle to Cradle sustainability certification standards. If I receive an order myself in one of these, I'll reuse the mailer. Smaller tails will get shipped in secondhand bubble mailers, and larger orders in secondhand cardboard boxes, sometimes wrapped in secondhand bubble wrap and other packaging. (My garage has a terrifying amount of secondhand packaging stored in it!) I only ship a couple of times a week to reduce the number of trips to the post office, and I go late at night to the 24/7 postal kiosk a couple of miles away from my home. Less traffic means less gas burned. I also save the waxed paper that peels away from the postage stickers the kiosk prints out, as well as the ones that peel off the adhesive on the priority mailers, and add those to my packaging stash.
For vending events, there are a lot of resources that are in use. A lot of my vending display like the gridwall is largely secondhand. I also bought a secondhand roof rack for my Corolla last year so that I don't have to buy a bigger vehicle or a trailer to haul things around, which would make my car less fuel efficient. Most of the plastic tubs I carry my art in are secondhand, too. And my partner and I try to fit other out of town errands in with these events since we're headed that way, anyway.
And, of course, beyond my green energy contributions, I give a portion of the money I make to environmental nonprofits. Over the past fifteen years I've given art money to everyone from the Defenders of Wildlife to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Scottish Wildcat Association, Wolf Haven International, the Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership, and more.
And that's just the green process for the tails! My entire art and business process is the same way, and I'm always trying to find more ways to green up :)