Contributed by Tanya Schiavone

Enviro-friendlyIn my years as an art student, I chose my classes based on materials. Not only was I concerned with costs, I worried about the effects different products would have on my health as well as the planet. I stuck to illustration as it only required pencil and paper. When I sculpted, I used clay that could be reused.

Now, companies are making environmentally safe art supplies.

Sketchpads. Lots of companies are making pads from recycled materials such as hemp and paper. Aquabee makes great tree-free, acid-free sketchpads while Canson Biggie makes chlorine-free newsprint.

Paint. Organic paints and varnishes are free of harmful chemicals. M Graham paints do not require solvent and are made from walnut oil, which cracks and yellows less than traditional paints. Real milk paint works well for murals and brick painting. It is 100% organic and can be mixed to create any color. Natural Orange Terpene Solvent is nontoxic and can dissolve resin.

Easels. They can be made from bamboo or recycled wood.

Drawing materials.  Plant based pastels, oil crayons, and my favorite watercolor pencils are all environmentally friendly. Markers are now even non-toxic, refillable and economical—no more marker headaches.

For kids.  Stubby Pencil Studio makes eco-friendly materials and supplies. They offer crayons made from soy and pencils made from recycled newspapers. Even their play dough is made from food safe organic ingredients in case the kids sample their creations.

Do you know of any environmentally friendly art supplies? We invite you to add your favorites in the box below.