NATURAL EARTH Paints: Their Benefits to You & THE ENVIRONMENT

Written 2021-06-16 by Keily E. Torres

“Organic Paints” or “Natural Earth Paint” by definition is a new type of paint made with organic ingredients and mineral pigments, making them completely safe for indoor use and sustainable to the environment. But how do you actually know whether the paint you are using is natural and safe for you and your loved ones?

Oftentimes, products labeled as “ eco-friendly," "environmentally safe," and "green” have become marketing lingo and might not be trustworthy. These words and language can be used to make a product seem desirable without having been verified or backed by proof. They don’t mean anything and their “accepted definition” (as stated by the manufacturer's regulation organizations) is actually different from what we think. Or, some products have been examined for consistency with their messaging, but barely meets the criteria set by the least regulated standards possible.

The problem with paint making is the steps that are taken in order to make it. At any point of production, harmful materials or toxins can be added. The best option to know for sure if a certain kind of paint is worth the investment is by skipping the feel-good words and researching the way they were made. The quick and easy way to find out is to simply check the ingredients on the label.

Some things to keep in mind:

  1. VOC’s, Volatile Organic Compounds, are unstable chemicals that release gasses harmful to both people and the environment. Avoiding these toxic chemicals is crucial to keep you from poisoning yourself and the environment. An innovative way to prevent gas release from happening and to actually help the environment was designed by the company “Graphenstone”, which currently makes and sells interior paints (intended for house project use, but who says we can’t use them?) that absorb C02 instead of releasing them. These compounds are a result of the synthetic nature of the paints and are normally found in interior paints.
  2. Only get water-based or organic oil-based paint mediums. Keep away from heavily fumed paint. Oil paints themselves don’t release any chemicals into the air as long as they are made of natural pigments free of other kinds of toxins. However, if you add solvents or mediums containing petroleum distillate to them during the painting process they sure will. Oil paints that are safe under these conditions can be made of flax, safflower, poppy, and walnut oil. Water-based paints are normally labeled as washable.
  3. A really sad reality about acrylic paints is that they are essentially made of plastic (polymer emulsion) and are not the most friendly to the environment. There are a couple of alternative options like encaustics and cold wax mediums as well as tempera paint that you can opt for instead. Using natural pigments with acrylic gel mediums will give you the same result. These alternatives not only minimize toxic fumes in your studio but also contributes to reducing global plastic waste.
  4. Check for all materials labeled as "earth pigments" such as clay, minerals, and plant-based harvested from the earth. Make sure they are free from preservatives, heavy metal toxins, solvents, synthetics, additives, and fillers...and that the medium you are mixing with are as safe as the pigments themselves.
  5. Another really innovative way to know for sure what goes in your ingredients is by going back to the beginnings of paint-making and buying organic pigments. These pigments can be mixed with oils such as water, gel medium (we discussed earlier), and even walnut oils!

Organic paints are only one of many ways artists can be more mindful while building awareness for conservation art. So, don't stop searching. There is always a better, more eco-friendly alternative to suspicious mainstream paints. Our community was created to help keep your creative process meaningful and drive sustainable progress for our shared environment.

To read more about sustainable practices in art, please visit our Impact Page.

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