Hot on the trail of my post about Young at Art I want to discuss eco friendly art supplies. So what do you think about when you consider children’s art supplies? The first thing that comes to mind is probably the Crayola crayon. It is the most popular brand of crayon used by millions of children around the world. But did you know that Crayola crayons are made with paraffin wax, a petroleum by-product?
Yes, ooey gooey, nasty petro products in your child’s mouths and hands. The availability and price make it hard to buy anything else though…I know, I still have Crayola crayons round here I am sure. I am trying to phase them all out though. Here are some eco crayon alternatives:
Soy Crayons – I don’t eat soy but I have nothing against using crayons made from it. MUCH better than petro and soy is a renewable resource. Prang makes a good soy crayon that you can find at most office supply stores. My kids have Crayon Rocks and really like them. They are small rock shaped crayons made out of soy. Little fingers can grip them well, preparing fingers and hands for handwriting skills.
Soy crayons have a very “light” color though so these may or may not be for you.
Beeswax Crayons – These are a hit in our house. The colors are brilliant and they are made out of all natural, high-quality beeswax. Waldorf schools commonly use these in their classrooms. They are the best IMO and you have a couple options.
Stockmar Beeswax Block Crayons are shaped like blocks. They are easy to hold the shape allows for different coloring possibilities. They also prevent the mess of a wrapper. Sets comes in a handy reusable tin, colors including; crimson, orange, golden yellow, lemon yellow, green, blue, rust and red-violet. Stockmar products are also certified nontoxic by the Art and Craft Materials Institute.
But if you want regular crayons you can get the Stockmar Beeswax Stick Crayons. This luxurious set luxurious set includes the following colors: carmine red, orange, lemon yellow, green, blue, blue violet, red brown, and black.
You can also get a combo pack with both stick and block crayons.
Modeling and Molding Materials – Kids love to manipulate soft substances and create, hence the love of play dough. What kid doesn’t love molding, sculpting and squishing clay or play dough?
Conventional play dough is made with chemical dyes though and could pose a risk. I think this why so many parents are making their own play dough. But if you aren’t the craft sort you can also buy organic and natural play dough these days. My kids love Eco Baby Organic Playdough and Mary’s Softdough. They also like my homemade play dough. :)
Clay can also be bad news as many clay brands for kids are polymer clays. The qualities of a polymer clay are due to its primary ingredient, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or vinyl. PVC is considered the most toxic plastic. During manufacture and when burned, PVC creates a highly toxic byproduct called dioxin, which is a potent carcinogen and endocrine disruptor.
I try to avoid clays from conventional stores unless I am familiar with the company and the ingredients. We opt to use beeswax modeling materials most times. Beeswax is the ultimate modeling material, a great educational tool for encouraging creativity and tactile exploration. The wax becomes pliable with the warmth of your hands. The modeling wax is completely non-toxic , non crumbly, totally reusable, with a pleasant aroma. We like Stockmar’s Beeswax Sheets.
Artemis Plant Colored Beeswax is another good product.
Finger paints – Finger-painting is a wonderful sensory activity and one kids really enjoy. For this I recommend the natural finger paints from Clementine. It is a 6-color set of petrochemical-free natural finger paint for kids, you can feel confident about. They are hemp-based vegan paints dyed with vegetable dyes. Colors are white, yellow, red, blue, green and black.
Regular paints – We use tempera paints and GLOB paints here. The latter uses fruit and veggies for color and they are both certified non-toxic. They have a smooth texture and bright colors that blend easily. I like to find brushes art yard sales and estate sales but Amazon has some decent natural bristle brushes. Melissa and Doug have some really cute brushes for small folk.
Pencils – Lots of options in pencils. I think I will start by mentioning a favorite in our house… Smencils! They are really cool gourmet scented pencils made from recycled newspaper. The scent lasts for about two years and they have biodegradable erasers. Oh and the scents are groovy … root beer, cherry, watermelon, etc. The only drawback is that each individual pencil comes in a plastic container BUT they house the pencils until they are consumed and then they can be used for beads and stuff so you can give them a second life.
Lyra Waldorf Pencils are artisan-quality watercolor pencils with a wide array of color options using fine pigmented dyes that work to create brilliant color variations, which are long lasting and non-soluble. Pencil colors in the set include: golden rod, lemon, orange, dark carmine, light blue, Prussian blue, sap green, apple green, van dyke brown, vermillion, venetian red and purple.
Faber-Castell 12 Jumbo Triangular Color Eco-Pencils are great for younger kiddos. They are produced with 100% FSC certified reforested wood guaranteed exceptional quality, brilliant colors and excellent results-made with total respect for the environment. Each smooth sided pencil comes with a different design to help teach color recognition.
Jumbo Grip Graphite Pencils with no slip grip. Non-toxic, CE approved and safe for children ages 3 and up.
Earthwrite Recycled Pencils are #2 lead pencils made from 100% preconsumer waste materials and PMA certified non-toxic.
Journals and Sketchbooks – Once you have the tools you need some paper! One that I highlighted awhile back immediately comes to mind.
Elephant Poo Poo Paper Journal … yep its made from elephant dung! It a 20-Page Basic Journal with lignin-free, ccid-free; recycled paper, a brown recycled paper cover embellished with a lovely elephant silhouette. Since elephants poop about 16 times a day (wow!), elephant dung is a resource with the potential to solve the farmer/pachyderm conflict.
Tree Free Notebooks – a sustainable substitute source for paper-making fiber. The growing demand for paper made with kenaf, a fibrous plant from the Mallow family that’s related to cotton and okra, has made it an increasingly viable alternative economically.
Have fun making art AND saving the planet…all the while keeping your kids SAFE.
Tuesday, July 8th, 2008