Crafting with a conscience

**List to me read out this post on my Podcast instead! Click here**

Mindful crafting is a great way to enrich your creativity and exercise other parts of your brain. And besides, craft supplies are so colourful and fun. They are enticing. Winking at us from the art aisle. Although, how much do we know about the ingredients of the paints, pigments and glitters we buy? What effects do these non-food safe ingredients have on our environment or on us and our families?

Oil paints

Some oil paints are toxic because of the heavy metals used in some of the pigments so try not to eat them. The label on the paint tube will indicate whether it contains toxic chemicals. Other toxic particles that can be inhaled as the paints dry are called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The effects of VOCs include respiratory irritation, headaches, nausea and they can trigger asthma attacks. For example, an increase in VOCs leads to reduced air quality. Picture in your mind the worst air pollution of a city. Smog is basically a bunch of VOCs polluting the air. Note that there are different types of VOCs and not all are considered hazardous. However paint and solvent fumes are in the hazardous column.

Disposal: You will need to be careful about disposing of your excess oil paints to avoid them polluting the environment. Oil-based paints are considered hazardous waste in many areas so they need to be taken to a household chemical waste collection point. Contact your local council for details on where to dispose of hazardous waste.

Oil paints are not water-based so they don’t dissolve in water, which is why you use solvents when working with oil paints and cleaning your painting tools. Solvents like paint thinners are considered hazardous waste so they cannot be poured down the drain, in the garden or thrown into the general waste bin. Contact your local council to find out where to dispose of hazardous waste.

Acrylic paints

Acrylic paint is water-based so you’ll be using water to clean your tools and thin the paint.

As with oil-based paints there are some pigments in acrylic paint that may be toxic. Check the labels on the paints for warnings of harmful chemicals. If the label says non-toxic then it doesn’t contain any heavy metals in the pigments. But it also doesn’t guarantee that it’s totally harmless. There are other components of the paint, such as binding agents and additives that produce VOCs and are harmful on skin.

Disposal: Don’t pour the paints down the drain or in the garden as they contain chemicals that are hazardous to the environment. The water that you rinse your paint brushes and tools in can be evaporated and the vessel can be discarded in the general waste. Extra acrylic paint can be dried and thrown in with your general waste. Pouring old paint sludge down the drain is a bad idea because it will cause blockages to build up in the pipes.

Glitter

The teeny tiny sparkly pieces of plastic that make up glitter are also known as microplastics. Microplastics and nanoplastics are pieces of plastic on the micro and nano-scale that have been made, either on purpose, or by nature of errosion from the breakdown of larger plastics. Read my post on microplastics to find out how they’re affecting us and the environment. Spoiler alert: microplastic pollution frightens me; The sheer amount of it, the chemicals that leach from it and their effects.

Disposal: To prevent your glitter from polluting the environment the safest way to dispose of these microplastics is in a sealed container in your general waste. The small particles cannot be recycled. Any cards or paper wrapping with glitter on it cannot go to the recycling bin either. Dammit, glitter, why you gotta be so evil?

Crayons

Crayons are often made of paraffin wax which is made of fossil fuels. Paraffin wax can emit VOCs when you burn a paraffin wax candle but the jury seems to be out on the toxicity of paraffin crayons. Many sources claim that paraffin wax crayons are non-toxic but they are made from toxic chemicals so they may decompose back down to these toxic components.

Harmless crayons can be made with soy wax or beeswax.

Disposal: Crayons are recyclable. You can use your oven to melt down old stubs into new crayons. There are also council collections that will take old crayons. Or you can donate unused crayons to schools or daycares.

Thanks so much for joining me today. Check out my YouTube channel Queeenvk for more Full Cup Wellness.

Keep your cup full!

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