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Following on from last week, when I started to follow the eco trail of my art materials, this week I’m going to talk about the packaging they arrive in…

Recently, I bought a half pan of Winsor & Newton watercolour (see picture). It was encased in the packaging shown to enable it to be hung up in the shop.

Now consider this for a moment: not only is the paint in a plastic container but it is then wrapped in plastic and paper, which is then wrapped in plastic and cardboard. Just how much packaging does a half pan of paint need!

I was thinking about this when I also happened to see a Friends of the Earth video about ‘recycling’. I’d always imagined what I put into the recycling was recycled but it seems this is not the case. The video showed that some of it is dumped on Indonesia – sometimes on their streets!

So not only is the packaging that my art materials arrive in ridiculous overkill, it is also a health hazard in a country far away that I shall likely never visit. How can I possibly justify my part this? How can the government or Winsor & Newton justify their part in this?

Although I’m alleviating the problem for myself by making dyes from plants, mud, etc it is, as yet, a long way short of being the complete solution. So I’m thinking of leaving the excess packaging my art materials are covered in in the shop. This will not directly solve the problem but it may cause the shop to rethink how they stock their materials and perhaps pressurise their suppliers to rethink their packaging. At the very least, it will stop them passing their problems onto me. After all, it is them that has decided it’s necessary to have all this excess packaging not me.