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The Green Life: Green Biz: Etsy Empowers Earthy Artisans

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April 27, 2010

Green Biz: Etsy Empowers Earthy Artisans

Handmade crafts Artisans who work out of their homes are inherently eco-friendly. They spare the air by staying off the road, and many make art out of society's flotsam.

Lately, indie craftspeople are finding it easier to earn a living, thanks to Etsy, an online marketplace that exposes their wares to millions. Unlike eBay, where sellers often offload unwanted junk, Etsy is a virtual craft fair. Artisans set up online "booths" to hawk quirky pieces (e.g., clocks made of hard drives). And it's growing fast: Etsy's sales doubled to $180 million in 2009 over 2008, and the site now hosts 250,000 merchants.

Many Etsy sellers integrate eco-practices into their works. Margaret Kasper, owner of Mountain Girl Clothing in New Hampshire, turns thrift-store finds like old sweaters into, as she says, "more stylish, modern, and versatile pieces than what they started as."

Christy Schwathe of Hu.made creates accessories from vintage clothes, recycled scraps, and sustainable new materials. She operates from her house at the foot of New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo Mountains. "This is the way I live," she says of her earth-conscious habits, "so why wouldn't I apply it to my business?"

—Kyle Boelte

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