One helpful change

This isn’t the usual blog post, but I’m really excited about it! For some time now I have been feeling unsettled about using acrylic paint and the impact of plastic in our water system so I have found something helpful that is quite easy to do. I do believe that we can all make the odd change or two in terms of our choices and this is one of mine. I’d like to make more – I am a work in progress as I guess we all are. It’s still not great that my art creates waste that goes to land-fill but that is much better than plastic paint going into the water system so I’m ok with this for now, I’m just happy to have made one helpful change.

The reason it’s important is that the water treatment plants cannot remove the micro plastics in the paint mediums, the stuff that carries the paint pigment. The process below causes the particles in the waste water to flocculate (clump) and sink so that you can filter off the water. I’m not sure that this system will be 100% efficient at removing everything but I’ve been pretty impressed. It’s called a ‘crash’ system.

Before I show you, there are some other things that I’ve started to do that just stop as much going into the sink. These are really easy changes:

  • Wiping off as much excess paint onto tissue roll before rinsing
  • Using homemade stay-wet palettes that can be put in a bin
  • Using up leftover paint on papers for collaging etc

This is the video I watched that I found really helpful.

You need a large funnel, some large coffee filter papers, a bucket with a lid and two environmentally safe powdered chemicals. These are readily available on line. I wrote the amounts on as I keep forgetting. You don’t need much, although I had kept my water for so long I had to use a bit more to cope with the paint. I’d not wait as long next time but you only need to do this every one or two months.

I cut a small hole in a piece of card so the funnel would stand up straight. you could do this straight into the sink but I wasn’t sure how well it would work so I wanted to find out first.

I wish I had a photo of the paint before I added the powders. It was very opaque with several months’ worth of paint in it. This is after I had added them, I gave it a swish so you can see the particles. You need to leave it a while or overnight to settle.

Definitely, definitely use two filters together. They can split or be slightly imperfect and the filtration can take a while so you don’t want to have to start again (like I did!!) I got through several filter papers but I still think it was worth it. You will need to change them as when the water gets a bit worse towards the bottom, they get blocked with the paint residue.

I will spare you the paint sludge as it was not a pretty site! I made a couple of newspaper ‘nests’ and scraped the paint into them to dry off outside a bit before disposing into the bin. There was a large amount of residue and I really feel better that it hadn’t gone down the sink. The water was very clear, a slight colour to it but a million times better than it was. You can also do a PH test also to get that neutral (see the video) before disposal. I’m so chuffed with this!…

You use acrylic paint like me, perhaps you already do something like this or one of the other suggestions, if not, I hope this has been helpful.

5 thoughts on “One helpful change

  1. This was so clear and so useful, thank you! I’ve been saving my paint water, but was a bit scared of the chemicals, but having seen this I’m going to have a go (and soon because a summer’s worth of paint water is getting a bit smelly!)

  2. Hello Rachael, It is always so good to hear from you. Thank you for this information. I always use cloth in one way or another for wipe-ups. Some turn out to be quite beautiful and I incorporate them in my work. I also have quite a number of unique napkins etc. etc. I have also used a fairly large piece of canvas for wiping that eventually turns into a painting. All that I do is just a token of what should be done. You have the answer. Thank you! Judy

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