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Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle in Your Art Practice

Updated: Apr 22, 2022

In recent years, we have seen a rise in the zero waste movement and recognition of the negative impacts and subsequent consequences we are having on our environment.


Zero waste is “conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health” (, 2018).

While zero waste is an extreme lifestyle change, there are smaller things we can do to encourage positive material and product decision making in our lives and in our art. You may be more familiar with the reduce, reuse, recycle model. Now let’s take a look at how we can reflect that model into both The Art Studio and into your own art practices.



When we are thinking about reducing our materials and intake for art products, to me, this means buying intentionally. Go into the store with a list and think about how one material can be incorporated into new and different ways. Limit what you purchase in the store and before you shop, double check that you don’t have something you can use already in your home.


If you have taken a look around The Art Studio, you may have seen all the materials we have. While we do have the all classic art materials, we have bins and shelves full of salvaged materials such as; paper towel tubes, plastic containers, cabinet packaging, bubble wrap, pencil shavings, and even dried paint. We look at each material and the potential it has beyond its formal and intended use. We use old t-shirts and sweatshirts as our rags and Folders coffee contains as our water cups. Keep an eye out for our 1990's Power Rangers watercolor brush cup that has a been a part of The Art Studio for over 20 years!


Rather than throwing away your old artwork, look for a new home for it. You can gift or sell your artwork to friends or family who will give your piece a new life. If it isn’t something you feel confident in gifting, don’t just throw it away. If it is a canvas, gesso over the old painting to have a new white surface. For 3D works, think about deconstructing the sculpture into smaller pieces that can be reused for future projects. With your drawings and paper works, they can head to the recycling bin to be hopefully turned into something new.


Don’t be afraid to continue to step it up even more! Get reusable bags and bring them with when you go to buy your art supplies. Have your receipt emailed to you rather than printed. Try to select materials that aren’t wrapped up in lots of plastic wrap. Think about what will be going into the trash and the potential consequences that could have on our planet.

The most important part of reducing your consumption of plastic based or artificial materials starts with education. Learn about how you can reduce your footprint and take a second to think before you buy something new or throw something away. The zero waste movement is a monumental task, even I am not there, but this quote below really helped me feel like the small changes I was making are making a difference. For each container you turn into a water cup, or bag you save at the store, that is one less artificial element being introduced into our ecosystem. It is making an impact.

Art is a tool used to beautify the earth, let’s make sure that it isn’t damaging it in the process.

If you are interested in thinking more about your impact on the planet and making artwork that reflects on these ideas, check out our April Workshop that we will be posting on Facebook, Instagram, and to our mailing list this Friday. You can check out the flyer below now! - UPDATE: April Eco Workshop not available for April 2022.

April Eco Workshop
Download PDF • 153KB

What materials do you reuse in your own artwork? Are there any natural materials or process that you have tried out? Let us know in the comments below.

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