Art is everywhere all at once — in photography, music, painting, sculpture, architecture and more and has a great influence on our everyday life. Art in society can reveal a lot about the present moment, the artist himself and his relationship with the world around him, as well as about the people who come into contact with the work.

Despite that, the definition of art is extremely complex, and it is a very abstract concept. This is because the understanding of what is art and what is not art has experience major changes over time. In addition to the fact that the idea of ​​art can be quite different, depending on the culture in which this debate takes place.

When allied to the term sustainability, art can be understood as something that is produced and created by taking into account its impacts on the environment.

Our society is gradually becoming more conscious on the environment and choosing greener solutions in many aspects of their lives, and art is included. Although many people think of the idea of sustainable art as a new movement or trend, the truth is that many artists have been working with it for a long time.

Those artists use their work to send powerful messages - such as climate change, political policies and environmental issues. Others seek to optimize the use of natural resources to reduce the pollution of their work, like many architects. Sustainable art and eco-friendly art are a way for artists and designers to rethink their approach for the benefit of both the audience and the environment.

Its origins can be very broad because embraces many other movements, such as the conceptual art. The idea of conceptual art is based on the meaning of the piece rather than the creation of an object and the products used are natural or “found objects”. These projects emphasized location, materials, and process over preconceived ideas about a final piece.

Sustainable art is work that reflects the main pillars of sustainability: ecology, social justice, non-violence, and grassroots democracy. Moreover, artists look to ecological practices because of the accessible cost-effective materials, the possibility to underscores political and social issues, requires additional creativity and uniqueness, inspires social awareness while benefits the environment.

Most of sustainable art is usually created for outdoor spaces, which cannot be moved, or exhibited in museums or galleries, only through photographs, meaning that the artworks themselves become experiences, or indeed documentation of experience. Below, explore the wide variety of different techniques and types of sustainable arts used by different artists.

Types of Sustainable Art

Sustainable art can have many forms depending on the materials used or the purpose of the work. Here are some of the most prominent types of sustainable art and its curiosities:

Land Art

Also known as Earth Art, Land Art first emerged in the late of 1960s and 1970s when artists began using natural materials to create artwork directly in the landscape, often in remote locations. The materials used includes soil and rocks, vegetations and water found on site. The photographic documentation of these works was often taken back to the studios and urban art galleries to popularize the movement. The most famous land artwork is Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty of 1970, an earthwork built out into the Great Salt Lake in the USA.


Upcycling is the form of art made from waste, unwanted or broken materials. Many artists use this form of art to spread the message about the world’s growing plastic problem and waste crisis and to bring awareness and criticism to the political systems that perpetuate a damaging cycle of consumption.

Ecological Art

Ecological Art is functional art that focuses on restoration and activism. The movement also addresses politics, culture, economics, ethics and aesthetics as they impact the conditions of ecosystems.

Closed-Loop Fashion

Is the idea that articles of clothes can be transformed, reused, or recycled back to their original form. With Closed-Loop, clothing brands and designers can bring sustainability and eco-friendliness into the fashion industry and therefore, at lower prices.

Creativity and artistic activities can play an important role in the resolution of many problems. It is through this art that artists hope to not only change how their work is made, but to inspire social and cultural change as well.

Sustainable Artists

Concerned about local and global environmental issues, sustainable artists celebrate their connection with nature by creating sculptures with natural materials and documenting their work though photography. Here are some artists who go beyond aesthetics and use their works to convey messages of awareness and sustainability.

Nils Udo

Creating environmental art since 1960, Nils Udo is a German artist who works with natural materials such as leaves, branches and fruits, celebrating the beauty of the land. Udo is known for its unique art, from delicately arranged petals scattered on the surface of a lake to spectacular nests formed by branches.

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan is an American artist and photographer known for using his work as powerful messages about the consumerist culture and the impacts of plastic waste in our planet.  One of Jordan’s most famous work is the Intolerable Beauty: Portrait of American Mass Consumption – a series of photographs portraying the magnitude of America's waste and consumption.

Andy Goldsworthy

One of the most renowned land artists in the world, Andy Goldsworthy is a British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist who discovered his creativity in nature. Goldsworthy uses natural resources, such as leaves, stones, ice and branches that convey the beauty of the natural environment in art.

Jeff Hong

Animation storyboard artist, Jeff Hong uses the power of the internet to raise awareness of environmental issues and encourage people to be more responsible and caring for our planet. A big fan of Disney movies, Hong's work is called Unhappily Ever After, in which he uses Disney characters in real situations facing climate change and pollution through illustrations. On its controversial images, Hong stresses that if people don’t change habits, the fairy tale will most certainly not have a happy ending.

Sandhi Schimmel Gold

Sandhi Schimmel Gold is another eco-artist and environmentalist who transform garbage and recycled papers in art. Schimmel Gold works is a combination of painting, mosaic and college and every piece of paper is chosen purposely. Besides to garbage, the artist also uses non-toxic and water-based paints.

Sayaka Ganz

Famous Japanese sculptor, Sayaka Ganz believes that all objects and organisms have spirits, and when are discarded before their time weep at night inside the trash bin. And that's where your creativity come from. Ganz uses various forms of thrown away plastic, from cutlery to sunglasses and baskets, and sorts them into many colour groups. Her most recent sculptures depict animals in motion.

Although sustainable art isn’t the most lucrative of fields, and most projects may not solve an environmental problem, the goal is to provide a perspective on the world in its current state, suggest potential solutions and raise awareness of issues for which artists are passionate.


Art and sustainability play a very important role in society as a way of rethinking and recycling the objects that would be discarded. Both can help the planet to become a better place with more sustainable practices. Art is used for entertainment, cultural appreciation aesthetics, personal improvement, and even social change. And sustainable art certainly a way to prosper in this world.