Art inspires and moves our souls. However, sometimes the process behind an artwork creates the opposite effect on our environment. Hazardous materials are often used to express an artist’s feelings. Acrylics, resin, oils, solvents and other chemicals that are toxic to the environment and to humans as well. You may have been familiar with painters who suffer diseases due to breathing toxic chemicals intensely.
Ideally, suppliers should be transparent about toxic materials in their products and manufacturers should be proactive to supply sustainable products. But suppliers’ main goal is to sell the products, so they will not lie about the toxicity in their products, only emphasizing in its advantages: rich colour, easy to apply, versatile, durable. Whilst manufacturers wants to make as many products with as little cost as possible.
It’s not an easy task to change the whole industry’s mindset, but you can always start with your own. How will our work be responsible for the environment and sustainability of our livelihood?
One of our merchants, Earth Heir, have taken this issue along their goal of achieving ethical partnership with local artisans. Earth Heir is a Malaysian social enterprise that promotes sustainability and fair wage of local artisans. You can read more about them here.
Earth Heir made sure that their products are environmentally ethical. The artisans are using traditional materials and techniques that will minimize environmental damage that may be contributed by the waste along the process. The company also give some of their profit back to nature by planting trees.
If you are an artist yourself, you can always opt for natural materials for your work, such as casein, beeswax, flax oils or bamboo fiber papers. Also, why not be creative as to reuse abandoned materials? Wood, plastic, fabric waste. Thus, you will help to clean up the earth; moving the trash back to people’s living rooms in an inspiring way.
When you are creating waste on the process of finishing your work, a good option is to team up with other artists that may use your waste as their main material. Remember, one man’s trash may be another man’s treasure.
It’s time to start being conscious about the things behind every artwork and generally every product we consume. Yes, an artwork may inspire us, but will it inspire our future generations when they struggle to survive because their planet is severely damaged?
You can support ethical arts by purchasing products from Earth Heir, an ethical Malaysian brand whose focus is to keep traditional artistry and the welfare of its artists. They also make sure that their products are not damaging the environment. Check out their story here and you can purchase their products here.