Idols and Figurines
we are praying to plastic
The majority of Pagan statuary (be it an idol, a trinket box, or just something decorative) is typically made of synthetic casting resin because it can be mass produced identically at very low cost. These are made from fossil fuels and are either polyurethane resin or polyester resin. The latter is mixed with fiberglass to prevent it from being a carcinogenic but does still emit harmful odors and toxins. Polyurethane resin, however, is much more widely used and allows for other materials to be mixed in, like a metal, to reveal a more metallic appearance when it’s set. They are usually first made by an artist who creates the original figure with plastic-based modeling clay that is then hardened in an oven. From there, a mold is made from silicone (a polymer) rubber so that resin can be poured and duplicates of that original can be quickly popped out endlessly. These guys are difficult to recycle, being a Recycle Code 7, and most recycling facilities don’t accept them because they can be toxic when melting down. Though chemists have now made a biodegradable synthetic resin, it has not yet been popularized and thoroughly distributed.
Soapstone is another common material for our statuary. And though soapstone is a more natural ingredient, it still requires extensive mining to extract (mostly for talc production) that can lead to nearby pollution and threatens the surrounding wildlife; in this case, the Indian tiger.
The best material for our Pagan idols and figurines are individually handmade, and consist of sustainable wood or fire clay. If you are not an artisan yourself, try scouring your favorite Pagan shop to see if they’re showing local artists and sculptors or try places online like Etsy, where you might find someone, like this carver or this sculptor, who can carve you your god or goddess using sustainably sourced materials!