The Plains, OH — Paint generally isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when people think about Earth Day.
Enter Reclaimed Earth Colors, a set of oil paints that were made from the pollution that taints many Appalachian streams and turns them orange. These paints, produced by Gamblin Artists Colors, were created by extracting iron oxide from Sunday Creek in Athens County, Ohio. The innovative process cleans the acid mine drainage (AMD) caused by historic coal mining, turning it into pigment for use in paints and other products.
“This is the ultimate win-win for Mother Earth,” says Paul Patton, director of operations for True Pigments, LLC, a social enterprise of Rural Action that is in the process of building a facility at Truetown along Sunday Creek to extract the pigment at scale. “The process removes the AMD that pollutes the creek while creating a marketable product that we can sell to fund the cleanup of even more waterways.”
True Pigments recently purchased the final parcel of land it needs for the project.
“We now own the worst acid mine drainage in the state of Ohio,” says Michelle Shively, director of project development at True Pigments. “And we couldn’t be happier.”
The site produces 988 gallons of AMD per minute — more than 2 million pounds of iron oxide per year. “We believe in asset-based approaches to boosting the local economy,” Shively says. “While it’s easy to see this AMD solely as a blight, we are turning it into an asset that will create a cleaner future with sustainable economic opportunities in our region.
”True Pigments is hoping to begin full production of iron oxide pigments in 2022. But consumers don’t have to wait until then to try the paint. A sample set of Reclaimed Earth Colors can be purchased now at RuralAction.org
True Pigments, LLC, a social enterprise wholly owned by Rural Action, is committed to turning the environmental destruction of yesterday’s extractive industries into a vibrant, regenerative environment and economy for the future. To learn more about how True Pigments is creating colors for a cleaner world, go to ruralaction.org/truepigments.
Rural Action is a regional community development organization with a 29-county footprint working with members and community leaders on a range of quality of life, environmental, and economic projects across rural Appalachian Ohio. Its mission is to build a more just economy by developing the region’s assets in environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways. Learn more about Rural Action at www.ruralaction.org