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Eco Art Supplies for Children

by Tiffany in Crafts

Eco Art Supplies for Children

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 Stockmar Block Crayonstin, 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 INatural Finger paint 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. Lyra PencilsPencil 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.

  • MamaBird/SurelyYouNest

    I agree with you about eating processed soy but what I really wanted to say was, thanks for the compilation. We have/make some of these supplies but some were new to me. Great post!

  • Jenna

    Wonderful information! I had no idea there were so many options!


  • Violet

    Why don’t you eat soy?

  • I will eat soy beans on occassion but soy products like soy milk, soy cheese, etc. I don’t think are healthy. Soy has alot of estrogen-like plant hormones in it and processed soy products give you a major does of the stuff.

  • Great post! Not sure how I feel about Elephant poo poo paper…but that is fascinating.

    Hope you don’t mind me sharing, but I posted a little while back on safe and organic craft supplies…click on my name if you want to check it out…

  • I tell ya, I find myself adding almost every page of your website as a favorite… it’s full of such fantastic information. Thanks!

  • melinda s

    What a great post!! My oldest took art classes and the teacher made most of her products or had earth friendly ones.

  • Tae Pang

    Great blog! Not many people really know about the toxicity in their everyday products they use. The toxicity may accumulate over time gradually become extremely hazardous to a child’s health. To prevent this from happening, make sure to only use art supplies that are labeled “AP Certified Non-Toxic”. This certification means that the product contain no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or harmful to humans. You can find a variety of AP Certified Non-Toxic art supplies by visiting

  • Finding Art Supplies

    Finding art supplies that are the exact fit for every artist can be a tall order, but at Trekell we are committed to the quality of our products and have been offering our customers the very best in fine art supplies and art brushes for decades.

  • Meg

    Great blog! I have saved this page for some future gifts in the family and for my (future) kids! What excellent ideas! I really think the Elephant poo poo paper is awesome, though hubby is proving it will take time for him to warm up to the idea.

  • Rose from FineCraftGuild dot com

    This is an EXCELLENT informative post. I think I will blog about it, as it is an hard to get your mind around topic. One really has to be ‘vigilant’ in order to find safe art materials.

    Using recycled materials instead of traditional ones is one way around some of the drama, but you are sure to shed a lot of new light here around which art supplies you can use safely.

    Thank you so much!

  • Andrew

    I enjoy your blog an appreciate the great information you provide. But I wonder why you link all the products to Amazon. It seems to me the nature mom thing to do would be to buy from small mom owned business such as instead of a huge company like Amazon. Just curious. Peace.

  • Thank you! This is yet another great post. I have been searching for more natural crafts and toys for my kids. I love milk paint. It is non-toxic and it works just as well as any other paint. It is a little lighter and more rustic but it still works great. It doesn’t have the harsh fumes.

  • Great ideas! Hope you don’t mind me linking this on my blog!!

  • ECC

    ooh, forget for the kids, I think I would love it!

  • Michael

    Thanks for the compilation. From a art retailer (brick and mortar only) which specializes in such products, you’ve done a great job. Sources are limited and the biggest issue is the pigments. With kid’s materials permanency isn’t so much of an issue but it is an issue for resellers because of the very limited shelf life of natural-sourced pigments.

    Crayon Rocks and Elephant PooPoo Paper are excellent products. Beeswax crayons are also great but expensive- but they also last a very long time so are an excellent value. (I’ve had customers who put three kids through Waldorf school in which one set lasted the three kids’ entire time at the school.)

    Smencils, however, are poorly made, don’t sharpen well, break easily are packaged excessively (with plastics) and contain allergen-prone scents that are far from environmentally friendly. They’re used alot as fundraisers for schools because they’re cheap- and cheaply made. We found a better product that’s well made, high quality called O’Bon. Their newspaper pencils are wrapped very tightly, their leads are of the highest quality and their packaging is made out of recycled material- and still colorful and attractive to kids.

    One other thing I’d like to point out is that “AP certified non-toxic” label is deceptive. Using that as a measure of the safety of materials is not something that should be taken lightly. This notice is also on kids watercolor paints, tempera paints and even petroleum crayons in spite of their (debatable) toxicity. But again, it is the pigments that are the issue.

    Although a retailer, I encourage parents to make their own materials with common household items and vegetable dyes. The making of these materials can be just as educational, inspirational and involving as using them. For manufactured items, we need to look beyond company’s claims and support only quality materials. Otherwise, just like with anything else, if something is cheap and poorly made it may well discourage the creative process which is so important in the raising of a child.

  • Love your blog, as I use art equipment myself, I am wondering whether you could recommend anything for adults too.

    Have enjoyed reading and will be following.

  • Kendravogt

    Do you know of any all natural chalk? My kiddos have a chalk board and my youngest likes to put it in her mouth.

    • You can always make your own using toilet paper rolls as molds. ;)

    • I know this is coming very late in the game, but I just stumbled on this page and maybe someone else will as well?  If you’re pressed for time, I found a vegan, organic art supply boutique that sells sidewalk chalk:

  • peggy

    All the time ,my work is very busy .So that I do China Wholesale Jewelry not have time to handle my blog .It must be very “angry”.I decide to make my blog popular as yours.

  • Avril

    Hi Tiffany
    I was excited to see that you have an article to make putty as I have been avoiding shop bought ones because of the chemicals they contain.

    “Make Your Own Silly Putty

    2 cups white school glue
    1 cup liquid starch”

    but nearly all white glues are chemical based PVA and as far as I am aware you can only obtain the stretchy polymers needed to create silly putty by using chemical glues.

    Which is disappointing and definitely NOT natural.

  • Justine

    It always amazes me the manufacturers of art supplies, well anything really, that claim “green” “ecofriendly”etc. and make it seem like they care about the environment don’t take into account vegetarian and vegan lifestyles which after all truly ARE good for the environment. I don’t see I have to compromise on my art supplies or anything like that -if it’s non toxic and “natural” (and there for supposedly ecofriendly) it has animal products like beeswax or some slaughter house by products in it (NOT Eco friendly). If it is made without animal products (usually better for the environment than products that use animals) it’s made with some toxic chemical instead. What gives? Don’t they see how non sensical illogical and hypocritical that is Arrghhh!!

  • Wonderful!

    Thank you.

  • IOGoods

    so many awesome, eco-friendly alternatives out there, thank you for highlighting these!