Better paint choices

Go for natural ingredients the next time you reno


Paint choices

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Paint easily puts a finishing touch on your favourite hideaway. But there are products that – no matter what the colour– come in a better shade of green. Here are some tips for more environmentally friendly coatings.

Low-VOC paints For weeks or months after the last coat has dried, standard paints release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, potentially causing nausea, eye and skin irritations, and even contributing to smog. Fortunately, most major paint brands now mix eco-friendlier alternatives, using water and latex as base and binder, and minimizing the use of synthetic solvents and petroleum-derived products. Look for “Low VOC” or “Zero VOC” on the label.

Natural ingredients Some finishes shun formaldehyde, ammonia, and solvents in favour of natural, less-toxic ingredients:

• Linseed oil is a biodegradable, renewable resource.

• Milk paint employs casein, a non-toxic milk protein, as a binder.

• Minerals can be used as pigments.

• Beeswax is a binder that’s been around for ages.

• You can even find biodegradable interior and exterior stains made with soy or citrus oils.

Recycled paints Some companies now recycle unused paints, mixed with a small quantity of new ingredients. As durable as mid-range new paint, the recycled product sucks up less energy and fewer natural resources in its production, with fewer leftovers wasted.

For more information about alternative paints, check Green Seal, a Washington, DC, non-profit that ranks different products for their eco-friendliness, and TreeHugger, a blog dedicated to making all things green mainstream.


For product information:

This article was originally published on March 31, 2008

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