Being a Greener Artist – Part 2

In part 1 of my Greener Artist series, we looked at ways to make environmentally conscious decisions if you are a painter. In this post, we’re going to look at ways that artists using drawing mediums can contribute as well!

Using Pencil Extenders
This may seem like an odd thing to be environmental but it allows you to use your pencils down to the very last mark instead of abandoning them when they get to a length that isn’t comfortable to hold anymore.

How It’s Green:
Pencil extenders tend to be made of lightweight aluminum so they are reusable over and over. By using your pencils down to the very last bit. You are reducing waste not only in the environment but also getting your absolute money’s worth out of every pencil.

Recycle Pencil Sharpener Shavings
Use a glass jar from pickles, jam or any other product and collect your pencil shaving in there rather than tossing them in the garbage. When it’s full you can transfer them into your organic recycling bin.

How It’s Green:
Pencil shavings contain enough organic material to be out in your green cart or organic compost bin. Check with your local waste disposal facility to make sure this is acceptable but in most cases it is fine. Less waste that ends up in a landfill is a bonus for everyone. It can also be kind of interesting seeing how much you accumulate from a single drawing!

Use Green-Conscious Products
Many art supply companies are making strides to make environmentally conscious products while still maintaining the quality artists have come to love from them. Investing in products that use certified sustainable forest practices, allow you to refill the contents or replace the nibs goes a long way.
How It’s Green:
Because marker brands like Copic and Shinhan Art have replaceable components, you aren’t throwing out the plastic casing every time you need a new marker. This also helps justify a slightly higher cost because you ideally only need to buy the full marker once and then just replace components as needed which results in much less waste. Supporting companies using sustainable forest practices is also sending a positive message and will hopefully encourage other companies to follow suit.

Recycle or Reuse Your Paper Cut-offs
If you tend to buy large sheets of artist paper and then cut them down there are a few ways you can get the most out of every sheet. When I buy Fabriano Artistico paper I tend to cut off the edge that isn’t perfectly straight. Depending on how many size sheet I’m going to cut out of the 22×48″ sheet I either recycle that strip left over or use it for test swatches when working on larger pieces. I also write notes on them and keep them as well for future reference or paste them into my sketchbooks.

How It’s Green:
By either recycling your offcuts or finding a new use for them, you are getting the most out of your sheet of paper or at the very least not throwing it in the garbage.

Keep a Recycle Bin in Your Studio

It seems pretty obvious at this point that you should be recycling paper. If you aren’t already, keep a bin in your studio for packaging and excess paper that can be recycled. Having the bin handy allows you to have a dedicated place to keep your recyclable waste and makes it easy to take it all away later.

How It’s Green:
Having a bin right in your studio will help resist the urge to just through something in the garbage out of laziness. A lot of packaging can be recycled so do your part and keep it out the landfill.

There are many ways to make your art practice more friendly to the environment or support companies who are making an effort to reduce the waste created by their products. Where you choose to spend your money is just as important as what you do on your end to help reduce waste. As a bonus tip, next time you take a trip to your favorite art store, bring a reusable bag instead of getting a plastic one from the store. Every little bit helps! 🙂

Do you have a Green Tip for Artists? Share with me in the comments!

Barb Sotiropoulos

Barb Sotiropoulos

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

4 Responses

  1. I didn’t know that about the markers having replaceable bits. Cool to know! I’ve also heard Faber-Castell is a very eco-conscious company from supply sourcing to production. Great tips!

    1. Yes! It’s such a great idea! I feel like they maybe don’t market that part of it enough. Faber-Castell is big on using sustainable forest practices which is great. I already love them anyway, but if they can find a way to make their PITT pens more eco-friendly that would be amazing! I always have horrible guilt throwing them away when they aren’t usable anymore 😬

      1. Yeah, I’d love to afford one of those fancy schmancy writing pens that you just replace or refill the cartridge. I hate the amount of plastic I go through just from writing.

      2. It’s so true! I honestly wish more companies would get on board with the Reid ability thing or at the very least find a way to make their products recyclable

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Hey, I'm Barb!

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

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