• Canvas is a textile used as a base for painting. It is available in different weights and weaves. 1 Canvas paper are sheets of canvas bound as a pad and generally precoated with gesso.


  • Canvas is typically made from cotton, but pricier linen canvas (from the flax plant) is also available. Canvas paper may be primed with gesso and a glue-like “sizing”. This is either PVA size (neutral pH white glue), or rabbit skin glue, which strengthens the fibers. 1
  • Canvas paper pads may be made from scrap canvas that would otherwise be discarded. 2


  • The cotton industry consumes an immense amount of water, releases pesticides into the environment, and depletes the fertility of the land. 3 Linen production outputs less waste water and carbon dioxide, and uses less energy than cotton. 4 Rabbit skin glue is likely a byproduct of the rabbit fur and meat industry, which requires fewer resources and has greater output than beef production. 5

Human Health

  • There are no major health risks associated with canvas.

Social Equity        

  • Unsustainably managed agriculture leads to the pollution and exhaustion of the land, which causes long term damage to the livelihood of the surrounding community. 3
  • The use of pesticides can affect farmers and the surrounding community; poisoning and death are not uncommon, especially in developing countries. 6

Safe Use and Exposure

  • Use caution when cutting and stapling canvas. Do not flake old paint off a canvas without breathing protection. Many artist paints contain heavy metals which can be accidentally inhaled as dust.

Proper disposal

  • Painted canvas that is no longer desired can be painted over and reused. Usable canvas can also be donated to the givetake, or disposed of in the regular trash. Allow wet paint to dry before disposal.

Safe Alternatives

  • Choose canvas that is made from sustainably grown plant fibers, or reuse old canvas.


  1. “Understanding the Difference Between Canvas and Linen”, Winsor & Newton,
  2. “Blick Studio Canvas Pad”, Blick,
  3. “Cotton”, World Wildlife Fund,
  4. “Environmental Footprint of Different Textiles and Comparison of Cotton and Linen (Flax) Fabric”, Envormation,
  5. “Industries Using Market Rabbits – Meat Production”, Florida 4H,
  6. “Why Farmers Continue to Use Pesticides Despite Environmental, Health and Sustainability Costs”, Science Direct,