If your child enjoys art projects, it’s likely that you have a stash of crayons, markers, paints and brushes somewhere in your home. Although these kids’ art supplies help to foster creativity and imagination, they often come at the expense of our environment. The plastics, packaging and raw materials used to make children’s art supplies are manufactured from non-renewable resources, and they are generally not biodegradable.
As the green-living mother of an artsy toddler, it’s taken a bit of time, effort and creativity to develop a solid stash of sustainable children’s art supplies. These guidelines can help you select earth-friendly art supplies for your child.
In general, crayons are greener than markers. Although markers are almost always made with plastic, crayons are not. Instead, a typical crayon is made from paraffin wax, which is itself a by-product of the petroleum industry. No new fossil fuels are extracted to make paraffin crayons, but there ae some ecological drawbacks to paraffin. For example, it is not bio-degradable, and it can rarely contain trace amounts of toxins such as asbestos.
To choose more earth-friendly crayons, select products made from soy or beeswax. These are sustainable and renewable. In addition to being completely nontoxic, they decompose naturally if they are discarded in a trash can. Always choose nontoxic crayons that are made in America; this minimizes the risk of contamination from lead, asbestos or poisonous pigments.
When shopping for earth-friendly children’s art supplies, view markers as an indulgence. They are almost universally made from plastic, which is based in petroleum and not biodegradable. Your child’s old markers will sit in a landfill for centuries, so bear that in mind when buying art materials.
Fortunately, more companies are striving to create markers that are gentler to the planet. For example, Crayola has taken a massive green step by selling markers made from 100% recycled plastics. Other, smaller companies sell wood-based markers and products made from solar or wind energy.
Paints and Brushes
Choose sustainable kids’ art supplies by selecting wood paintbrushes instead of plastic brushes. Wooden brushes are renewable and likely made from waste wood. Alternatively, look for paintbrushes made with 50% or more post-consumer recycled plastic. Some companies may also sell kids’ paintbrushes made from horse hair instead of petroleum products.
When selecting paints, choose watercolor or tempera paint as earth-friendly art supplies for children. These do not include the petroleum products in acrylic paint, so they are inherently more sustainable. They are also cheaper and less likely to stain.
It takes a bit of extra effort to choose green art supplies for your children, but the ecological benefits are well worth the effort. Your child and the planet will both be grateful for your consciousness.