They say art isn’t just supposed to look nice. It also needs to make us feel something. 

Indeed, art is not just for our visual enjoyment but also for the feelings we get from making it. Studies have shown that creating art can be therapeutic for people with cancer, anxiety, and depression. Because of art’s healing power, many are interested in creating and owning art. In fact, the United Kingdom is one of the world’s leading markets of art and antiques

It no surprise that art can inspire, improve, and soothe us. However, the process of making art may cause more harm than it helps, especially when it comes to the environment. 

Is art bad for the environment? 

To understand how the art industry can harm the planet, let’s pay attention to an artwork’s life cycle’. An artwork’s life begins at its design and production, transportation, exhibition, conservation until it reaches its end-of-life when it is correctly disposed of. 

Usually, creating art involves the use of a canvas and paint, with the latter being composed of oils, resins, acrylics, and other art-related chemicals. While these chemicals allow artists to make visually pleasing creations, most of them are toxic and pose harm to the planet

Another environmental impact of the art industry worth pointing out is its transport following production. A single artwork frequently shipped by air or by land will generate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, thereby contributing to global warming and damage to biodiversity. 

Plus, artworks that are exhibited outdoors may have synthetic coatings that may emit toxic chemicals due to the runoff of rainwater. These chemicals can flow into bodies of water and contaminate them, causing harm to aquatic ecosystems and human health. 

What are non-biodegradable materials?

As you can see, each of the different parts of an artwork’s life cycle has distinct environmental impacts. The best way to solve unsustainability in art is to get to its root, which are the supplies used in making it. The common art materials that fall under the category of non-biodegradable items include solvents, thinners, resins, and paint, especially acrylic ones. 

Is paint biodegradable or non-biodegradable?

Regular paints are generally composed of three elements: a pigment, a binder, and a carrier. Unfortunately, these elements are produced using harmful chemicals. Pigments often contain cadmium, chromium, and lead, while carriers and binders contain petrochemicals, benzene, solvents, formaldehyde, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These chemicals are non-biodegradable and unsafe for the environment. 

Is acrylic paint biodegradable?

Although favoured to use in making art, acrylic paint is not biodegradable. It is made from a synthetic resin binder that is described as “liquid plastic”. Making acrylic paint also involves many artificial thickeners, preservatives, and pigment that can runoff to soil and waterways. 

What paint is environmentally friendly? 

At present, there are a lot of eco-friendly alternatives to traditional pigments and acrylic paint. These include mineral-based and natural earth pigments that are harvested sustainably around the globe. This type of environmentally friendly paint is made to be free of artificial additives, fillers, synthetics preservatives, toxins, and heavy metals.  

Aside from paints made from earth-derived pigments, other examples of eco-friendly paint have lower VOCs levels and are made from natural materials such as citrus, balsam, clay, and milk proteins. 

What is biodegradable paint?

Compared to conventional acrylic paints, biodegradable paints are made from natural materials that are abundantly available and are free of petrochemical components. They are made of a limited number of minimally processed ingredients that are biodegradable. Plus, they’re less energy-extensive to produce and are mostly used in making eco-friendly art.

What is eco-friendly art?

Eco-friendly art refers to artisanal works that are made through an eco-conscious process using sustainable materials. These materials include organically sourced, chemical-free, and recycled canvasses, brushes, plant-based pigments, and water-based paints.

Creating eco-friendly art might be great, but unfortunately, not all of us have the time and access to sustainable materials. Thankfully, there are marketplaces where you can purchase original and locally-made eco-friendly art online. 

Where can I buy original art online? 

You can purchase original art online in Artsy – a famous digital museum that features authentic pieces made by contemporary artists. You can also visit Slowdown Studio for limited-edition art created by emerging artists worldwide.

Where can I buy and sell art online? 

If you’re looking to sell your art and want to support other artists, you should definitely try online marketplaces like Etsy and eBay

Where can I buy art from local artists?

You can buy art from local artists in Tappan, an online platform that allows consumers to access local artisans’ works. Minted is also a great online marketplace for discovering local art.  

Where can I buy inexpensive wall art? 

If you like inexpensive artworks for your wall,  then you should visit Upton Home for sustainable and affordable home decors that are unassumingly stunning. 

As you can see, there are many go-to online marketplaces out there where you can buy inexpensive and sustainable art from local artisans. 

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of the online marketplaces to visit for sustainability-oriented art. Here are 15 of the best online marketplaces where you can buy sustainable and eco-friendly artworks: 

1. Etsy 

Price: Varied

Etsy is an online marketplace that’s great for buying and selling handmade art across different mediums. It is also a Certified B Corporation, and all of its orders are sent through carbon-neutral delivery. 

Shop on Etsy here

2. Paper Collective 

Price: $$-$$$

Paper Collective is an online one-stop-shop to visit when supporting both art and the planet. Home to handpicked artists and art lovers, it offers FSC-marked prints that are locally produced in Denmark. 

Shop on Paper Collective here.

3. Minted 

Price: $$-$$$$

Minted is an online marketplace that holds arts and design competitions to discover rising creators. Winners are paid commissions per sale, and their works are manufactured using clean energy and printed on FSC-certified paper.

Shop on Minted here.

4. Citizenry 

Price: $$-$$$$

If you’re seeking handcrafted art from different parts of the world, Citizenry is for you. This online marketplace features handmade decor crafted using organically sourced and recycled materials by artisans from India, Guatemala, and beyond. 

Shop on Citizenry here.

5. Minna

Price: $$$-$$$$

Minna is an online outlet that sells ethically-made handicrafts such as ceramics, baskets, and other home decors. This queer-led brand partner with sustainable manufacturers and factories. Plus, they only use non-toxic and natural dyes. 

Shop on Minna here.

Also Read:

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6. Society6 

Price: $$-$$$

Society6 is an online marketplace that allows creators to create their own shop and sell their work. The site supports ethical practices in making best-in-class art and features eco-conscious artworks made from sustainable materials. 

Shop on Society6 here.

7. Tappan

Price: $$-$$$$$

Tappan is an online art gallery that allows consumers to access limited edition paintings, prints, and photos.  Plus, most featured artists create art using sustainable and non-toxic supplies, like renowned mixed-media artist Nicole Patel. 

Shop on Tappan here.

8. Artisan & Fox

Price: $$-$$$

Artisan & Fox is a social impact start-up that offers a sustainable fashion marketplace for artisans and creators globally. This social enterprise empowers artists by connecting their ethically-made creations to eco-conscious fashionistas worldwide. 

Shop on Artisan & Fox here.

9. The Crafted Prints

Price: $$-$$$

The Crafted Prints offers quality prints and photos at affordable prices. The store’s artworks are made to order and in-house to reduce waste. Plus, a portion of each sale goes to support the fights against human trafficking.

Shop on The Crafted Prints here.

10. eBay

Price: Varies

eBay is a popular online marketplace for the buy-and-sell of collective and original art. This site is a must-visit if you’re looking for ethically-made creations, vintage posters, and one-of-a-kind decors. 

Shop on eBay here.

11. Blockshop Textiles 

Price: $$-$$$

Blockshop Textiles is an LA-based art studio that celebrates traditional Indian hand block printing. The studio’s geometric and abstract prints are sustainably produced using vegetable pigments, mineral dyes, and cotton paper from textile scraps. 

Shop on Blockshop Textiles here.

12. Artsy

Price: $$-$$$$+

Home to the largest digital database of contemporary artworks, Artsy is an online marketplace worth visiting for your art needs. This site allows users to bid, buy, and make offers on eco-friendly prints and other unique fine arts. 

Shop on Artsy here.

13. Upton Home

Price: $$-$$$

If you’re a fan of decorating your home with prints, sculptures, and paintings, then Upton Home is the site for you. This California-based studio offers prints on 100% cotton canvas, wooden sculptures, and museum-calibre paper. 

Shop on Upton Home here.

14. Spoonflower 

Price: $-$$$

Spoonflower is an online marketplace that leads the way in making textile art sustainable. The site’s print-on-demand process ensures that their fabric, wallpapers, and home decors are made with less ink and fabric waste. 

Shop on Spoonflower here.

15. Cambio & Co. 

Price: $$-$$$

Cambio & Co. is an online fashion boutique that features ethically-sourced and handmade accessories. The brand sells a range of ethical trinkets, from jewellery made using recycled tees to vegan hair accessories. For every sale, the brand gives back to the social enterprise partners it supports. 

Shop on Cambio & Co. here.

About The Author

May can usually be found reading a magazine and that will be more than likely a fashion or environmental magazine. When not absorbed in the latest gripping articles on fashion or eco living, May is a fashion writer who is passionate about the environment. May believes in looking and feeling good whilst living an eco friendly lifestyle. In her spare time she loves cooking, playing her guitar and going for country walks. May lives in the UK and enjoys spending time with friends, family and her two adorable cats.

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