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Natural Earth Paint's Quest for Zero Waste Creativity

Natural Earth Paint's Quest for Zero Waste Creativity

Posted by Leah Fanning on Jan 17th 2021

As many of you know, we're introducing new home-compostable pouches for our pigments so you can enjoy a whole new way of storing Natural Earth Paint the eco-friendly way! But how did we get here?

Since our humble beginnings, we've been committed to eco-friendly products and practices. We operate out of a fully solar-powered facility in Southern Oregon that also serves as a community drop-off site for bubble wrap and other packing materials. All of our liquid products, like our walnut oilvarnisheco-solve, and acrylic medium are packaged in recyclable glass or metal packaging. Our kit boxes are also made from post-consumer recycled fiber in a wind-powered facility.

We've always held onto our green values, so we believe we're responsible for changing and growing as environmental science progresses. The story of Natural Earth Paint's pigment pouches is linked to that science. After all, what's one area of environmental science that the world is always learning more about as time goes on? Plastics.

Back when Natural Earth Paint was first created, we thought paper would be the best option for our pigment pouches. But the pouches tore, spilled, and made more of a mess than we wanted our customers to endure! Glass containers for the pigments were too cumbersome and would break in transit, so they were a no-go, too. Our solution? Biodegradable plastic bags within 100% post-consumer recycled envelopes and kit boxes. In those days, "biodegradable" was a huge eco-friendly buzz word! 

Years later, we discovered the horrible truth. "Biodegradable" doesn't actually mean "green". All it means is that a material breaks down into tiny pieces easily. Yes, plenty of materials are biodegradable AND green (think paper, food waste, and plant-based materials, which decompose and introduce nutrients back into the environment). But biodegradable plastics, on the other hand, can cause significant environmental damage. They turn into micro-plastics, or tiny flakes of plastic that easily make their way into the soil, water, and even our food. In short, biodegradable plastics do more harm for the environment than good.

Our next move was to switch to 100% plant-based bags made from sugarcane. Compared to our previous petroleum-based bags, these seemed like a pretty great alternative! The catch? We later found out that even though they were made from plants, they didn't decompose or biodegrade like them. In fact, they often don't decompose or biodegrade at all.

What?! 

Now we were frustrated. How could all these types of packaging, advertised as clean-and-green, still cause environmental damage? Clearly, it wasn't enough to blindly trust those who claimed their materials were eco-friendly. We needed to do the research for ourselves

In our search for packaging that was truly green, we found a perfect solution:

Home-compostable packaging!

Our newest pouches can be composted right in your backyard compost, adding nutrients back into the environment. They don't release harmful chemicals or plastic particles into the environment like biodegradable plastics can, and they're 100% plant-based, too. At this time, only one of our products will continue to use plastic pouches that are 100% recyclable at thousands of stores worldwide; please visit this website to search for a location near you.

Plus, we've included a little gift to our Natural Earth Paint family for sticking with us as we've grown as a green business- recipes! If you've never worked with natural pigments before or want to try out a new way of painting, some of our favorite recipes are printed straight on the inside of these new pigment packages for super easy access to our most commonly requested tips and tricks. 

It takes time to perfect eco-friendly products and practices, and we're so grateful to our Natural Earth Paint family for continuing to support our journey. We owe it to you (and to Mother Nature!) to be transparent about our process and products and live up to our eco-friendly standards, all while fueling your creativity.

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