Whether you’re helping your kids with a school project, painting a mural or (finally!) tackling that DIY project you started months ago, consider switching out your art supplies with sustainable soy-based alternatives. Swapping out your standard art materials for those made with soy can not only lessen your impact on the planet but will also help bring your creative vision to life. Let’s explore all the ways you can add soy into your creative pastimes.

Soy Milk as Pretreatment for Dyes

People have been creating art with soy for centuries. Take the Japanese dyeing technique, Katazome, for example. This technique consists of stenciling patterns onto fabrics using a combination of rice paste and soy milk. Artifacts from as far back as the early 19th century illustrate how vibrant and long-lasting art made with soy milk can be.

Indeed, pretreating fabric with soy milk can help you achieve darker colors and improve colorfastness when using natural dyes. The soybean protein in the milk coats plant fibers, which makes their texture more like protein fibers, such as wool or silk. Because protein fibers have a natural affinity to plant dyes and dye darker, fabric pretreated with soymilk will adopt some of these characteristics.

It’s easy to do! Simply mix one part soy milk with five parts water and soak your fabric in the mixture long enough to allow the protein to fully bond the fibers. You can make soy milk at home with soybeans and water, but you can also just use any unsweetened soy milk from the grocery store to achieve the same results.

Soy-Based Paints and Coatings

Did you know that soybean oil is actually used in making oil-based paint? Not only is it an affordable and widely available ingredient – Sherwin-Williams offers soy-based options – but it also offers some great benefits for your painting projects.

For one thing, soybean oil-based paints are easy to clean up with soap and water, as opposed to petroleum-based paints that often require harsh solvents for cleanup. Soy-based paints are also water resistant, durable and resistant to fading or chipping – perfect for an outside mural or adding fun accents to your bedroom wall.

Since soybean’s oil chemistry promotes hardness, durability and impact resistance, formulators have used it to produce high-performing paints and coatings that are more likely to withstand weathering and long-term wear.

Soy-Based Crayons

Looking to cut down on your kid’s screen time? Soy-based crayons might be the perfect way to foster your child’s creativity. These crayons are made using soybean oil, which serves as a natural and renewable substitute for the petroleum-based paraffin commonly found in crayons.

Soy-based crayons produce smooth and vibrant colors, since the soybean oil allows the pigments to blend well and provides a creamy texture for easy application on paper or other surfaces. Soy-based crayons are generally non-toxic and safe for children to use. Plus, they’re often free from harmful chemicals such as lead, phthalates, and other hazardous substances that may be present in conventional crayons.

There is a growing selection of soy-based crayons on the market. Available at Walmart, Prang crayons are made with soybean oil. Azafran soy-based crayons are another option. Azafran’s crayons are made from soy wax, soy butter and coconut butter.

Soy-Based Ink

More into digital design? You can print images using soy-based ink! Soy-based ink is better for the environment as it has lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to air pollution and harm our health. Plus, it can be easier to clean up and recycle, reducing waste in the production process.

Soy-based ink is a sustainable option that produces sharper and brighter colors than petroleum-based ink. Plus, it dries faster and has better adhesion. Not only is soy ink better for the final product, but it’s also cost-effective for big printing projects. It takes less soy-based ink to achieve the same color intensity as petroleum-based ink.

As we aim to strike a balance between our creative output and our impact on the environment, we should consider the sustainability of our art tools and materials. Soy-based dyes, paints, crayons or inks are excellent alternatives to traditional options that help us add beauty to the world without sacrificing the health of our planet.

Want to learn more about soy beyond food? From your wardrobe to your manicure, there are many ways to incorporate soy into your daily life.