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How to be a Sustainable & Eco-Friendly Artist

How to be a Sustainable & Eco-Friendly Artist

What are Eco-Friendly Art Practices?

Within the art world, the topic of sustainability has taken root and manifested itself into what is referred to as sustainable art. But how exactly are artists achieving sustainable art?

As expected, artists have found several creative ways to become more environmentally friendly. One option that has grown in popularity is swapping out tried and tested materials with more eco-friendly options. 

Switching up a practice that may have taken years to master can sound daunting, but it does not necessarily have to be. The sustainable art push, although very needed given current climate change projections, will undoubtedly be uncomfortable for some. But, there are solutions that do not require too much change.

Here are some things to keep in mind to help you navigate this transition, and who knows, you may even find eco-friendly mediums that you grow to prefer!

 

Eco friendly artist

 

Learn to be a Conscious Shopper:

As the saying goes, the biggest way to vote is with your wallet. Art is often an activity that requires the use of several materials. As such, it becomes even more necessary to shop consciously. Websites such as Jerry’s Artarama make things easier. Essentially, Jerry’s Artarama lets customers know which companies they consider to be green by using an easily identifiable "green products" logo. Choosing more eco-friendly products can help reduce your artistic carbon footprint.

 

 

Think natural ingredients:

More and more companies are making an effort to offer natural alternatives for art materials. For example, M. Graham & Co use walnut oil as a binder in all of their paints which helps to reduce the need for artists to use carcinogenic solvents. 

When choosing which paint materials to use in your art, consider water-based, plant-based, and mineral-based options for a more eco-friendly paint palette. It is not easy to accept that many of the most frequently used inks and paints can pollute land and water resources, but it is true, and it happens often. Fortunately, eco-friendly alternatives offer a wide range of effective replacements. 

 

 

Not all natural ingredients are better:

Ever consider how many trees are cut down each year? Over 15 billion trees. Nearly one-fifth of that amount goes towards fueling the pulp paper industry. It takes 24 trees to make just one ton of paper, 200,000 single sheets. Although trees can be replanted, the time it takes to regrow them cannot keep up with the pace at which the pulp paper industry cuts them down. 

Consider the vast amount of sketchbooks, loose sheets, and rolls that you have and will go through in your artist journey! Now multiply that by the hundreds of millions of other artists, from doodlers to professionals. However, as we’ve been saying, just a few minor adjustments to consumer habits and mediums can be more than enough to lower your artistic carbon footprint.

Stone paper is another great example of a simple eco-friendly swap. This medium is very unique and can be compared to Yupo paper due to its non-buckling and durable surface. However, some distinct differences that are worth noting. Yupo is 100% plastic, whereas stone paper is 80- 85% recycled stone from construction waste and 15-20% recyclable HDPE resin. No trees are used and no water is used during the production of stone paper.

In fact, during its manufacturing phase, stone paper uses 85% less electricity and emits over 60% less CO2 compared to other types of paper. With CO2 being one of the leading culprits contributing to Global Warming, switching from pulp paper to stone paper can have a significant impact! 

 

Watercolor sketchbook

 

What about the quality?

But the real question is whether or not eco-friendly alternatives, such as stone paper, can live up to the same standard of quality as traditional paper. Stone paper's reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. The paper is incredibly soft and durable, it does not buckle or expand, and it is bleed-proof. When comparing stone paper to conventional pulp paper, it comes out on top in several categories due to the fact that it works exceptionally well with oil paint, pencil, and several other mediums such as gouache, pastels, and alcohol-based inks. 

So, don’t stress! Transitioning to more sustainable art habits does not have to be as challenging as it may seem. With a degree of open-mindedness and a passion for creativity through experimentation, we are confident that you will find several green mediums that are equally performing, and in some cases, even better.

Haven’t heard of stone paper before? Try it out for yourself:

 

 

References:

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/23/arts/art-climate-change-environment.html

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/20/health/iyw-cities-losing-36-million-trees-how-to-help-trnd/index.html

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/apr/15/lucy-siegle-ethical-art-paint