Teaching Resources

Keeping our art supplies green

School Art SuppliesThere is a lot of confusion as to just which art supplies are environmentally-friendly

and just what we can do to make sure we play our part in using the greener options out there.

The power is with you to make a few decisions.

So, first things first, we should ask these two questions: are we using up all our paints before trying to dispose of them and are we recycling the plastic, card and paper waste correctly?

In the housing paint industry there is real concern over paint wastage, as when most people are painting a room at home they buy more paint than they will use. For example, when you think of a city like Auckland and all the people painting in one weekend, there is a lot of paint wastage that often just gets dumped.

But this is different in the classroom because we can use the same colour again tomorrow, so we need to use up all our colours.

Some brands that have the Enviro Choice mark have had all the raw materials checked to ensure they are environmentally-friendly. These products can be washed out with water and we can be assured that there is no harm to the environment.

But what can we do to keep green when are we purchasing art supplies?

First is to consider your carbon footprint. There are a lot of very high quality local products that are often as good as, if not better, than the imports. Why purchase products from China, Europe or even Australia?

Secondly, consider whether the bottle, jars, lids, or packaging can be recycled. Check out bottles and jars by looking for a recycling mark before ordering more of the same. For fun you could get your class to do this as a project.

There are some brands out there that have government environmental seals like Enviro Mark or Enviro Choice. Both these marks should appear on the label or packaging.

These seals indicate that these products and companies have been through a rigorous process, often at great expense to themselves, to ensure that these products are indeed environmentally-friendly.

The Enviro Choice mark goes one step further and checks all the raw materials in each product, not just the company.

Here are some ideas of what not to do if you want your art classroom to stay green:

• Don’t waste any of your art supplies. Even the smallest crayons can be used for wax crayon dye projects.

• Use up all your paints and supplies. Small jars can also be reused as containers or painting trays.

• Think twice before you order art supplies. Does it carry an environmentally-friendly seal on the packaging?

• Try not to purchase anything that is not made in New Zealand.

Each of us can make a difference by reading the labels and expressing concern to your art supplies company.

To be greener is just about slowing down and thinking a little smarter.

– By Tony Parker, general manager, Fine Art Supplies.

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