While it is a popular painting medium that is the favorite of many artists, environmentally speaking, acrylic paints have a few problems.
It may not be the worst paint out there, but since it is composed of plastic polymers, it is essentially plastic.
And unfortunately, this means it can contribute to resource use, energy expenditure, and water pollution in the form of microplastic waste.
There are many acrylic paint alternatives to consider, but for those that simply love their acrylics, luckily, there are some brands that can help.
Here, we look at 6 eco-friendly brands that have lines specifically designed for environmentally-conscious acrylic paint lovers.
We’ve rounded up a range that should satisfy both hobby painters, professionals, and those who need paint to conduct more extensive work, such as interior painting and design.
These brands boast minimal to zero VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and water-based acrylic paints without compromising quality.
Placrylic is a plant-based paint that behaves like traditional oil paint in that it can be worked in layers, but with many added benefits.
Many artists may not know that one of the main color compounds of acrylics, titanium dioxide, can be harmful to marine life.
For instance, research has found that the presence of the substance can be toxic to the development of fish and stunt their growth.
Removing this harmful chemical, Placrylic provides a fast-drying paint made entirely of plants, with vibrant colors, containing zero plastic that is 100% titanium-free, marine-friendly, and safe for use by artists.
It was developed by the English painter and chemist, artist hana, who invented this sustainable plant paint for artists in 2020.
It is suitable for use on various surfaces such as wood, paper, linen fabric, cotton fabric, linen canvases, and cotton canvases, whilst still being derived from food waste and hardy plants, with minimal environmental drawbacks.
In short, Playcrylic is a great option for acrylic fans. Moreover, the brand is committed to sustainability, and for every Placrylic product purchased, they plant a tree in areas where it is most needed.
2. Natural Earth Paint
It has a slightly different setup than traditional acrylic painting but with the same quality and versatility.
They offer a range of natural pigments that can be mixed together with a medium to create your choice of watercolors, oils, and acrylic paints.
Their newest medium, designed for acrylics, is made using natural archival ingredients to create a permanent, water-resistant, and non-yellowing finish that dries crystal clear.
They describe archival ingredients as those that come from natural pigments such as minerals, clays, and rocks, but with no harmful additives, stabilizers, heavy metals, or other toxic chemicals typically found in regular acrylic paint.
Unfortunately, heavy metals are often a problem in acrylic paints that go unnoticed.
However, researchers have pointed out that they present a real danger to health, as potentially carcinogenic and toxic.
In contrast, Natural Earth pigments are non-toxic, mainly plant-based, and contain no petroleum byproducts.
The paint can be used on a wide range of surfaces, such as canvas, paper, fabric, wood, stone, drywall, and metal.
It is also a superb varnish/sealer and collage adhesive. The product enhances the depth of colors, transparency, texture, and flow of other acrylic paints.
Overall, the products are preservative and additive-free, safe for use, and have the same longevity as conventional acrylic paint.
Another option offering no VOCs, solvents, or toxins is ColourCrafts’ eco acrylic paint range.
In paints, solvents are often petroleum-based, meaning they are derived from fossil fuels, which, as you may know, has harmful effects on our atmosphere.
They are used to disperse pigments and ingredients in the paint to achieve the desired consistency for painting.
However, ColourCraft’s range forgoes this additive with their new line promising the strong and vibrant colors many love about acrylics tempered with a wheat and gluten-free formula at very affordable prices.
ColorCraft itself has been a paint supplier since the 70s, and they offer a range of artist materials, paper, and paints.
However, it’s worth noting that while the company is moving towards more sustainable products (such as its new acrylic range), it is still a good idea to check the specs on different products if you’re not sure whether they are eco-friendly or not.
That said, the majority of their products seem to be non-toxic, water-based, and environmentally friendly.
For instance, they have a range of vegan brushes and recyclable brush fibers that may also be of interest.
4. Ecos Paints
Ecos Paints is a US-based brand that offers premium quality, eco-friendly paints, stains, and varnishes for over 35 years.
The brand offers non-toxic and water-based products that are made without the harsh chemicals found in conventional acrylic paints.
One of the significant benefits of Ecos Paints is that their products are zero VOC, latex-free, and do not contain toxic solvents.
However, interestingly, the paint can also be used to encapsulate existing surfaces by applying a layer of the brand’s product over the problem substrate, thus preventing pollutants such as VOCs from entering the indoor environment.
For instance, there are often many sources of preexisting VOC emitters that Ecos Paints can help tackle, such as old paint, drywall, particle board, and other man-made materials.
As mentioned, this makes them safer for people, the environment, and ideal for individuals with asthma, allergies, and chemical sensitivities.
It can be used for everything from interior and exterior, including walls, ceilings, furniture, and floors.
Liquitex is a brand of acrylic paints that was established in 1955, when their founder Henry Levison, a chemist, developed the first water-based acrylics.
The brand has since committed to creating a more positive impact on the environment through innovative sustainability solutions that retain product quality and performance.
For instance, they responsibly source 80% of their wood and paper products through Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification and have reduced their carbon footprint since 2019 with a goal to be fully carbon neutral by 2030.
They also share emissions and sustainability data with their business counterparts through Sedex, which monitors and helps them meet the highest standards of environmental performance with their ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 certifications
Currently, their aim is to recycle 50% of their total waste and reduce 50% of all hazardous waste by 2025, including those generated from their acrylic products.
Liquitex also offers cadmium-free paint alternatives. Cadmium is a heavy metal element typically refined from zinc ores that produces the yellow color in paint pigments.
While it is a popular choice for many artists, unfortunately, in research, it has been shown to be highly toxic to both humans and animals.
Liquitex, therefore, has developed a range of acrylics without this harmful coloring which includes vibrant shades from yellow to red.
6. Lakeland Paints
Last, but not least on our list is Lakeland Paints.
The brand was founded by Ian West and John Ashworth over 30 years ago when they spent six years developing the world’s first odorless, organic, eco-VOC-free paints and varnishes for healthy homes, nurseries, babies, and pregnant women.
Currently, the brand’s mission is to create carbon-neutral, solvent-free natural paints that are less polluting than traditional acrylic paints.
One way they have done this is by creating super-concentrated formulations, using three times the normal pigment levels.
This means that one-coat coverage is easily achievable – thus avoiding waste and cutting down on packaging and resource use.
They’ve won 4 major environmental awards, such as the Ford conservation award, and Glaxo Wellcome Responsible Business Award, and are ISO 14001 accredited.
In fact, the inventors were so eager to prove the safety of the product, one of the founders actually ate their wall paint during a demonstration.
Overall, Lakeland Paints’ eco-friendly acrylic paint range is solvent-free, VOC-free, non-toxic, and delivered in recyclable packing.