Going Green with Picture Framing

Written by Mark Rogers

It seems like there is always a “green” or environmentally friendly way to do almost everything these days. And that doesn’t exclude picture framing.

Whether it’s knowing what materials are used in the creation of the frames, the type of mat board you can use and even where you purchase the frame, there are ways you can be sure to have eco-friendly picture frames.

Sustainable Picture Frames

In order for a frame to be 100-percent eco-friendly, it’s important to know where the wood was sourced and what materials are included. This is crucial for not only the wood itself, but the finishes on the frame. Make sure there are no plastic or synthetic materials included in the frame, and that the finish is eco-friendly.

Eco-friendly finishes are organic and water-based, with no chemicals added. Some framing companies offer frames that have been made with leftover pieces of moulding. We offer frames made from finger-jointed wood. Finger-jointing is a process where short lengths of timber are bonded together to produce longer lengths. Finger-jointing reduces wood waste by utilizing shorts to create a dimensionally stable and environmentally friendly product. Others may even get their wood from sustainable forests. Eco-friendly picture frames also include backing board that is made from 100-percent wood pulp, and the frames have recycled glass.

There are also picture frames made with “rubberwood,” which is quite durable and is made with lumber from a rubberwood tree. What makes the rubberwood material eco-friendly is the tree isn’t cut down and used for lumber until it dies.

Mat Board

There’s no question that using a mat board in picture frames can add color and dimension to your artwork. Mat board makes the piece look more professional, it keeps the art from coming in contact with the glass and it can add an additional personal touch to your piece.

If you want to use an eco-friendly mat board, there are options. Check the information label next time you’re purchasing a mat board to ensure it has been made out of 100 percent paper. According to greenliving.com, examples of eco-friendly mat boards include art board, mounting board and rag mat boards. We sell Crescent RagMat Museum, and Bainbridge AlphaRag and AlphaMat.

Repurposing and Thrifting

The use of repurposed/reclaimed wood is definitely coming back in style these days. Check out any popular design show on HGTV, and you’ll see plenty of “reclaimed wood harvest tables and coffee tables” in every episode.

If you’re handy with a saw, good with measurements and have knack for wood working, you can take wood that has been thrown away—either after a home demolition or any you can find at a salvage yard—and make your own picture frames. If you’re not too handy with a saw or are nervous about the amount of work it might take just to make a picture frame, thrift and antique stores and flea markets are excellent places to find picture frames.

By browsing these shops, you’re shrinking your own carbon footprint by repurposing something that’s already been made. And you never know what kind of antique treasures you might find on your trip. What may seem like a boring vintage picture frame can be repurposed into something beautiful, or if you’re lucky, worth some money on Antiques Roadshow.

Taking the Guesswork Out of Purchasing an Eco-Friendly Frame

Sometimes it seems like a lot of extra effort is required to feel like you’re being environmentally and health conscious. You already have to read all the labels and ingredients on your food at the grocery store, and now you have to worry about checking labels on frames, too? Well, take heart, because some frame manufacturers cut out the guess work by providing “earth-friendly frames” that already guarantee everything you need in order to go green when framing your pictures.

EcoCare is one frame manufacturer who produces frames that are 100-percent environmentally friendly. Their products are green all the way down to the packaging, which is made from recycled paper. The colors come in “Mocha Bamboo,” “Nature Bamboo” and “Black Rubberwood,” and they are all recyclable, non-toxic, and “tree friendly.” The type of wood the frame is made from does not contribute to “deforestation,” the glass is recyclable, the backing board is made from recycled wood pulp, and the finishing on the frame is organic and water based.

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