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Due to the prevalence and urgency of environmental concerns, many artists are looking for eco-friendly versions of their favorite supplies. The dyed cores of colored pencils are usually housed inside cylindrical cases made of wood, an increasingly valuable resource. One way to find more environmentally friendly colorants is to look at whether the wood is sourced from sustainably managed forests.
Colored pencil cores contain a pigment and a binder, usually a wax, that holds the pigment together and allows it to adhere to surfaces; There may also be other additives such as chalk filler and vegetable gum. Various wax-based art media have existed since classical antiquity, and wax pens have been in use since the 16th century. Wax-colored pencils didn’t gain traction until the early 1900s, when they were used primarily not in the arts but in activities such as “checking and marking,” according to Western Association for Art Preservation. The manufacture of brightly colored pencils for creative purposes gained momentum in the 1920s and 1930s, led by graphite pencil maker Faber-Castell and other companies including Caran d’Ache and Berol Prismacolor.
Some colored pencils use oil-based binders, rather than wax, and some come in watercolor and non-wooden “stick” types. Here are introductions to five of the most eco-friendly colored pencils, with an emphasis on sustainable sources or a complete lack of wood.
Caran d’Ache Pablo Colored Pencils
Caran d’Ache’s Pablo line is one of the many colored pencil sets approved by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international non-profit organization that supports responsible forest management. Caran d’Ache is a Swiss manufacturer of art and writing materials, including these pigmented pencils, which are sold individually or in sets of up to 120 colours. Besides FSC certification, the company relies heavily on solar energy and reuses wood scraps from pencil production to fuel its heating system.
Faber-Castell colored pencils
Faber-Castell, a major global manufacturer of writing instruments, colored art tools, and graphite, was one of the first manufacturers of artist-grade colored pencils. More than 90 percent of pencil wood comes from FSC-certified forests, and they implement reforestation and conservation programs. Faber-Castell Classic colored pencils come in sets of 36 or 48, and the company also offers sets of up to 120 colors.
Kohinoor Progresso Woodless Colored Pencils
Colored pencil sticks without wooden casings do not require scoring any trees. Koh-I-Noor Progresso colored pencils have a lacquer coating instead of wood and contain five times more primary materials than typical colored pencils, according to the company. Koh-I-Noor has roots in Bohemia in the Czech Republic and an American base in Massachusetts. These non-wood art tools can be purchased individually or in sets of 12 or 24.
Stabilo Green Colors colored pencils
Stabilo, a family-run German product for writing and art media, offers 100 percent FSC-certified pencils in 24 unique colours, available in sets of 12, 18 and 24. Stabilo is also known for its popular highlighters, along with pastels and more Drawing and marking materials.
Sprout Pencils, Special Edition, Colored and Graphite Plantable Pencils
The end of each Sprout Pencil in this eight-pack contains a capsule filled with non-GMO wood flour and seeds. When these tools reach the end of their usefulness, they can be cultivated, continuing the life cycle. All Sprout pencil wood has been certified by the FSC or the Forest Accreditation Program, another international non-profit organization that promotes sustainable forest management. The company also implements several replanting projects.