If you're an artist with a heart for the environment, here's a list of eco-friendly art materials that will go easy on your conscience and help you do your part to do right by the earth.
Almost every art piece starts with a simple drawing, so start off with graphic pencils made by Derwent. Most pencils on the market today have a nitro-cellulose solvent paint finishing, but Derwent pencils have a UV cured coating which reduces energy consumption.
Looking for an earth-friendly sketchpad? The Aquabee Tree-Free Hemp Sketch Pad is made from 100% recycled materials with 25% hemp. No virgin wood pulp from trees is used, and you can sketch away on this pad knowing you're using a pad that has a minimal impact on the environment.
Painters face the hazards of coming in daily contact with paints that are often toxic and dangerous to your health after prolonged exposure in confined spaces. Thankfully, eco-friendly art supply companies are creating paints and pigments that go easy on the environment as well as your health. Consider earthen & mineral pigments, which consist of a kind of micronized powder. These pigments can be used in silicate glazes or in other paint preparations used in mural paintings. While these pigments are made from chemical components, all properties are non-toxic.
Another good source for environmentally sound paints is Ecos Organic Paints. These paints are solvent free and do not contain any toxic chemicals. This UK based company also takes a stand against supplies containing animal products--an extra plus when trying to utilize ethical materials. Ecos Organic Paints are also water-based and exceed standards for eco-friendly supplies.
If oil paint is your medium, you might investigate walnut oil paints. These traditional paints do not require additional solvents and retain pigments and color most desired by oil painters. Walnut oil paints have been used since the 5th century by some of the world's finest painters. You can create your masterpiece in good conscience, knowing many have gone before with this same paint, making no sacrifice in quality or color.
When it comes to clean-up, consider the extra Mild Citrus Thinner made by Eco-House for cleaning brushes. While this product is not solvent-free, it is a gentle alternative to other more caustic options.
If you're unable to start with earth-friendly art materials, make sure you dispose of supplies with the utmost care. Most cities list guidelines for proper disposal for artists and art supplies in particular. To avoid unnecessary waste, buy only in the quantities you need and be sure to keep solvents and other toxic materials out of reach of children. Many municipalities will recycle solvents or arrange for special pick up for liquids that contain certain chemicals.
The city of Tuscon offers this good advice for artists working with solvents:
For large quantities of solvents and solvent containing materials, contact your local fire department. Solvent soaked rags and papers should be put in a metal container. At the end of the day, hang them in a safe place outdoors to allow evaporation. Discard them them in a sealed, flame-proof container. Do not use plastic containers because many solvents will dissolve them.
As more artists utilize companies like Eco-House and Ecos Organic Paints, the need for special disposal measures with be greatly reduced. By sharing unneeded art supplies with other artists, utilizing earth friendly products and recycling when possible, artists can go a long way to doing our part to do right by the earth while we bring our art to the world.
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