Featured Member – Pierogi Picnic

Pierogi Picnic

Pierogi Picnic is an upcycled line of eco-friendly clothing and accessories that blends an urban edge with vintage charm. Assembled in the home studio of artist and activist Lydia Krupinski, this line of fun fresh products inspires the average fashion fiend to go beyond commercial consumption and buy green handmade goods. We caught up with this Eco Etsy team member to learn more about eco-crafting and her Etsy biz:

Tell us a little about yourself:

I am a hyperactive busy body who can’t seem to keep still! I work at The Anti-Cruelty Society by day, blog for the green living guide Sprout Chicago by night, and on weekends go sew crazy creating new items for my eco Etsy business Pierogi Picnic. In addition, this summer I am starting up a series of classes at Chicago’s Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum on eco crafting called Green It Yourself.

When my hands are free of fabric, animals, and computer keys, I enjoy riding my bike, cooking up vegetarian recipes, singing, and plotting my urban veggie garden. I live on the North side of

the city with my best friend and spouse David Paul Downs, and our furry friends, Tomato and Peanut. I am inspired by vibrant colors, fresh designs, and people who dedicate their lives to helping others, animals, and the environment.

How did you get started in your chosen craft?

For years I was resistant to my own calling. Despite having spent my entire childhood sewing clothes and making jewelry, I abandoned these passions publicly as an adult. I became a closeted crafter.

Then I found myself living in New York City and suddenly submerged in the indie scene. People were crafting with a vengeance, and doing it in a way that greeted my applause. I couldn’t hold out any longer and resurrected my love of sewing. By 2006 I was back in Chicago and had regained my creative confidence. In 2008 I decided to take my wares public by starting an Etsy shop.

How do you make your Etsy store eco friendly?

From the onset of Pierogi Picnic I made a commitment to lead an ethically responsible business. Almost like the concept of ‘beyond organic’ I wanted this venture to be ‘beyond sustainability.’  What does that mean? I didn’t want to participate in the green-washing that was becoming so prevalent mid-decade. If I was going to call myself an earth-friendly business I would have to be cognizant of every decision, product, and practice being carried out.

For this reason all of my fabrics are post-consumer – salvaged from thrift stores, yard sales, and friends. All of the paper and packing materials used are 100% recycled content, and I even make my own shipping containers out of cereal boxes. I also ride my bike to the post office, don’t outsource the labor, and work out of a tiny apartment-based studio. I think that running an online business has an eco-advantage as well: There’s no storefront to heat, light, and clean – it’s all digital!

What steps have you taken to lead a green life style?

For me it’s not just about living ‘green’ but living ethically.

I think it’s important to remain humble in all our efforts, so to deflect the risk of sounding boastful, I will say this: I measure every decision I make by looking at the impact it will have on those around me, both humans, nature, and animals. Herbivorism, city-living, not owning a car, buying local, reducing consumption, growing food, volunteering in the community, broadening awareness, all these things and more are ways I try to live consciously. I am also deeply ingrained in my Faith, and believe that it calls me to be a steward of all Creation.

Why did you join the EcoEtsy Team?

Community is so important when you’re talking about living holistically. Especially when your endeavor is primarily internet based, you feel the need to form bonds, links, and exchanges with others. My friend and I created Sprout Chicago with the intention of forging local connectivity for our metropolis. Joining the EcoEtsy Team was a way to achieve this internationally. It allowed me to connect with the myriads of other eco-crafters who were making an impact on their own piece of the planet.

What are you currently working on?

Screen printing is something that has always fascinated me but is sooo tedious. Recently, in an effort to achieve a similar aesthetic, I have been carving out linoleum blocks to make stamps for a series I’m calling “urban friends.” The prints are portraits of metropolitan animals like squirrels, pigeons, raccoons and more!

My recent venture into eco-craft instruction at the Nature Museum has inspired me to work on a series of sustainable home décor items. I’m hoping to have the collection done for a summer launch date so people can use them for picnicking! Items will include picnic blankets, collapsible bowls, napkins and more!

If that weren’t enough – I’m also gearing up to launch the official Pierogi Picnic website. It will include behind-the-scenes photos of my process, features on local activists, and green living tips. I’m toying with the idea of making it more interactive via flash, and am currently working out the bugs.

What is your most recent eco-living inspiration?

I just recently watched No Impact Man and it challenged me to reevaluate some things I had been slacking on. The film has inspired me to cut down on garbage altogether. One way we’re acting on this is by starting a compost – something I have been putting off for some time! I live in an apartment, and don’t have a yard, but will be creating a little verminculture center under my kitchen sink. The ultimate eco-endeavor!

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  1. Really interesting and inspiring interview.

  2. i enjoyed finding out more about your eco . artistic life … off to shop!