Gift idea: Nontoxic Kids Arts and Crafts

When the paint brushes and crayons stray from the paper and veer toward the walls, floors, and funiture, I often find myself asking why in the world I bother to encourage the artistic endeavors in my children. Yet I know that creative activities like arts and crafts are important for their development and so on a daily basis, I attempt to get them involved in all sorts of artsy activities, whether it’s finger painting, easy sewing projects, making homemade cards, or folding paper.

And as habit would have it these days, I’ve recently started to consider how arts and crafts activities effect the environment. Are there ways to green-up the craft room?

Greener paper
Conventional paper is far from lily white in terms of its environmental consequences. Made from dead trees (our key to carbon sequestration), paper is manufactured by bleaching (with chlorine) the pulp, which creates dioxins (which are carcinogenic) that then leech into our soil and water systems. So not only do we lose the climate benefits and wildlife habitat provided by trees, we poison the rest of the planet in making the paper. Better alternatives: repurpose scraps of paper from the office, buy FSC-certified papers, or look for a high post-consumer recycled content in all other options.

Healthier writing utensils
The pens, paints, and pencils that we use for drawing and painting are not always healthy, and once they run out they add to the growing waste problem. Plus, those scented options can contribute to indoor air pollution. So though it may be fun to sniff watermelon felt markers, they could be adding to respiratory problems in our family. And pencils are most often made from virgin trees (there go the forests again!). Better alternatives: get refillable pens and pencils, opt for writing utensils made from biodegradable materials (think corn plastic!), and look for felt pens and crayons made from natural components like beeswax, vegetable dyes, and nontoxic inks.

So there you have it. Those are my best options for creating a more eco-friendly craft room for the kids. But I’m sure there are other solutions and I’d love to hear your best ideas. Please share!

– Lucy Goes Green