If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to give up making art to help the planet. Thankfully, with these eco friendly art supplies, you don’t have to.
Whether you’re a crafting junkie or you just like to sketch every once in a while, art is a great way to express your creativity, feelings, moods, and talents.
But when you realize all the harmful chemicals that are present in paints, inks, and even some glues, it’ll make you think twice, especially if you’re working to be more sustainable in everyday life.
Since I don’t want to think anymore than I have to, I’ve gathered up the best non toxic art supplies as well as eco friendly craft supplies that will keep you in line with living sustainably while also boosting your creativity.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I might get a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you choose to make a purchase through any of these links. Please read the full disclosure for more information.
What Are the Best Eco Friendly Art Supplies?
Natural Earth Paint
Products from Natural Art Supplies products are green, organic, naturally sourced, and fair trade.
Their paint is made with natural pigments from the earth and doesn’t have any solvents, toxins, chemicals, or preservatives that most other paints have.
Their paints can be used on the following surfaces:
- Children’s faces
They have water-soluble pigments for watercolor painting, as well as oil based (mix with walnut or linseed oil), and they have manufactured the very first eco friendly vegan gesso that uses plant based binders.
Fine Art Brushes by Natural Art Supplies
I found a number of paint brushes online that claimed to be eco friendly, non toxic, or made from natural wood, but I couldn’t verify their claims on my own.
These brushes are not only inexpensive but they’re also backed by a reputable company like Natural Art Supplies.
- Handles are sustainably grown and harvested
- Varnish is plant-based and non-toxic
- Contains vegan bristles
- Cruelty free
Fabriano Eco White Drawing Paper and Pads
This drawing paper from Fabriano is a great choice for the eco conscious artist looking for good art supplies.
- Made of 100% post-consumer recycled pulp
- FSC Certified
- Non-chlorine bleach used
- Good for drawing and sketching
Creative Mark Symphony Art Stand
These sustainable easels are super affordable, which makes them a great choice for those who need an earth friendly art stand without spending too much money.
They’re made of beech wood or bamboo, making them a great addition to your sustainable craft supplies.
They can be positioned vertically or horizontally and will hold your art up 19.5″- 20.5″ high, depending on orientation.
- Fold flat when you’re done and need to store.
- Horizontal closed measurements: 17.5″W × 2.5″D × 15″H
- Vertical closed measurements: 2″W × 2.5″D × 15″H
Other Sustainable Easels:
Elmer’s School Glue
Elmer’s School Glue is pretty safe because it contains natural ingredients that are 90% biodegradable. Also, the bottles are recyclable and made from 30% post-consumer recycled materials.
However, school glue and other adhesives labeled as wood glue or carpenter’s glue are basically PVA glue, which means, ultimately, they come from crude oil.
This type of glue isn’t the best thing to happen to the environment, but it’s also not the worst. The pros of Elmer’s school glue are that it’s also:
- Cruelty free
- Widely available
Elmer’s also has their School Glue Naturals glue stick if you want to go with something like that.
Onyx and Green
Onyx and Green is another company that makes eco friendly glue, but it seems to be out of stock everywhere.
Lastly, UHU makes glue sticks that are relatively eco friendly. I use them and can definitely vouch for their adhesiveness.
They tend to be great for paper products and ephemera because the adhesion is less likely to degrade over time or “yellow” white paper.
Admittedly, I had a hard time finding something truly earth friendly in the glue arena, but these few options are “mostly” sustainable.
Charcoal and Pencils
Make Your Own
I’ve been a fan of willow charcoal for several years now, using it to draw some cool sketches with the help of a kneaded eraser.
Unfortunately, buying charcoal isn’t always sustainable because its mass production requires potential deforestation or at least partial destruction of woodlands.
And compressed charcoal contains added binding agents.
Making your own is the optimal choice because the most sustainable charcoal is that which comes from a source closest to your home.
Mother Earth News has a great post about how to make your own charcoal from trees in your own backyard.
If you’re looking for pencils to sketch with, earth-friendly pencils from TreeSmart are made with recycled newspaper and are made completely tree free. The hardness has been estimated at around #3 by one of the users.
DIY Crafting Kits
Whether you’re looking to craft something for a Christmas stocking stuffer or you want to tackle some needlepoint, Imagine Childhood has got you covered.
Their products are eco friendly, sustainably sourced, and made in the USA. Choose from:
- Soap carving kits
- Weaving looms
- Basket making kits
- Flower crowns
- Felting kits
Terra cotta clay is the most earth friendly clay around, and Das makes some of the best.
This is one of my favorite brands, and it works great for doll making, especially when combined with other air dry clays.
In my experience, it dries very smooth and is less likely to crack than other clays during the drying process.
- Contains NO plastics
- Comes in white or brown
- All earth friendly ingredients
- Easy to shape and no need to bake
Using what has been dubbed the most renewable material and most sustainable fiber on the planet–hemp–these journals are targeted to the truly earth conscious individual.
Here are reasons to get excited about these journals:
- 75% post consumer materials
- 25% hemp
- Variety of styles & sizes to choose from (regular to pocket)
- Made in the USA
- Chlorine and acid-free
- Good for writing, sketching, inks, etc.
Leather journals are quite popular amongst artists, but I know a lot of my readers don’t want to use leather. If you’re curious about some of the best vegan leather journals out there and where to find them, you can read about it on my blog.
Plur Vision Glitter
It’s easy to be in the dark about how destructive glitter is. But since it’s composed of microplastics that are easily ingested by wildlife, are not biodegradable, and release toxic chemicals during manufacturing, it’s not considered sustainable at all.
However, this glitter from Plur Vision is made from plant cellulose, so I just had to include it among these sustainable art supplies since I’m a junkie of all things that shimmer and shine.
- Comes in a variety of colors
- Sparkles like real glitter
- Non toxic
- Environmentally safe
- Made in the USA
Frequently Asked Questions about Eco Friendly Art Supplies
Is acrylic paint “eco friendly?”
While acrylic paints are water-based, they contain acrylic polymers and plastics as well harmful chemicals like heavy metals and solvents that are bad for you and the ecosystem. And paint thinners used to clean brushes are equally toxic, giving off harmful fumes when in use.
Acrylic paints are somewhat of a double-edged sword because while they are not 100% eco-friendly, they are still considered a sustainable solution to art simply because of its longevity, and the fact that it’s used by so many artists, making it “socially” sustainable.
Many cultures and subcultures thrive on art, and the polymers used in acrylic paint aren’t likely to break down for many, many years. Acrylic paints are more harmful when they are disposed of while wet. So if you have acrylic paints you don’t plan to use, it’s best to let it dry, then recycle them at a local facility.
What’s the most environmentally friendly artist paint?
The most environmentally friendly paint, in my opinion, is one that you make yourself.
But the brands listed in this article are definitely go-tos when you can’t make it yourself.
It’s important to consider both the ingredients, how the materials are sourced, and how easily and quickly the paint breaks down over time.
What is greenwashing in art?
Greenwashing occurs when a company makes claims that something is green, i.e. good for the environment, when it is not.
Fancy, roundabout language is often used to confuse or mislead the consumer into believing that they are purchasing an eco friendly product or service.
Greenwashing in art is probably common because there are very few ways to make art truly “green” as it depends on the use of things found in nature for what some might say is nothing more than recreational use.
Of course them’s fighting words for me! I find art a basic need, to be honest. Art is something we divulge in for pleasure and sometimes it works as a form of therapy.
But that’s for another blog post, I believe. Try to verify that the brand you support can back its claims of being green.
What’s a green alternative to acrylic paint?
Natural Earth Paint, as mentioned above, is a great alternative, but there are other brands that are good, too, such as Eco Kids, Honeysticks, eartheasy, etc.
Stick with paints that give off low or no VOCs, milk paints, watercolors, and anything that avoids harmful ingredients. Try to source locally as well for a smaller carbon footprint.
What are some ways to make my art more sustainable?
Traditional art supplies use a lot of virgin materials as well as chemicals.
To make your arts and crafts more sustainable, use recycled materials, household objects, recycled paper, supplies from local artists and small businesses, and try to stick with brands mentioned in this post.
Is gouache safe for the environment?
Gouache is somewhat of a cross between watercolor and acrylic, but it contains gum arabic as a binder, which is friendly to the environment.
Two brands to go for are M. Graham and Schmincke.
Can I make my own environmentally friendly paint?
Yes, you can. Use a mixture of flour, salt, and water mixed with natural plant pigments for different colors.
There are a ton of websites that have specialized recipes for making your own earth friendly paint, but the most important part is to have fun and be safe and kind to your surroundings when gathering materials.
Final Thoughts on Eco Friendly Art Supplies
I hate to say it, but finding supplies for arts and crafts that don’t have a negative impact on the planet, even a small impact, is pretty challenging.
I think our best bet is to use what we have on hand in a way that doesn’t cause harm and try to balance that with exploring our creativity in the most sustainable way.