The increasing concern about our environment has led the home building and interior design industry to think not only about the health of the earth but of people too. Most are familiar with the harmful effects that paint made with lead has had, but there are other harmful chemicals in what we brush onto our walls, trim and furniture. Organic paint or non-toxic paint offers healthy possibilities to home décor.
Environmentally safe paints did not begin to make their way into the spotlight until the 21st century. If you are living in a home or apartment that was built before the 1990's, and certainly the 1980's, then there is most likely some harmful paint on the interior or exterior walls. Interestingly, some types of paint that predate the petroleum era are the safest, such as milk paint, which has been used for hundreds of years. This is mix of milk casein, lime and earth pigment.
The benefits of environmentally friendly paints are enormous. These paints emit few or no toxins at all which helps everyone breath a little easier, especially those with sensitivities. When painting, because these paints are not toxic, they don't smell as bad; the water-based paints have virtually no smell. You won't need a paint mask when applying these glorious colors. These paints are easy to clean up and to dispose of. Many of them can even be poured right in the garden without harm.
Natural, non-toxic paints are made from many things. The most common types are milk-based, plant-based, water-based or soy-based. Milk-based paint, made by companies like The Real Milk Paint Company, uses a simple mixture of milk casein, lime, earth pigments and sometimes clay. There are also zero or low VOC paints that use under 25 grams per liter of VOC's.
Most organic paint goes on smooth and lasts a long time. Paints based in natural oils such as linseed will last a good decade or more without having to retouch. Many of these paints and stains can be used interior or exterior. Choices are not limited due to less and more pure ingredients; companies such as Bioshield make their solvent free wall paint in matte and satin finishes for example and also offer clay-based, milk-based and water-based paints in a variety of colors only to be found in nature.
Organic paint is a bit of a misleading term because all paints are made with some organic materials, but not all organic materials are safe. A better term for organic paint would be "green" paint or "environmentally friendly" paint. These are environmentally safe because they emit zero or very few volatile organic compounds (VOC'S), unlike petroleum-based paints.
As Solvent-Free Paint states on the website, "The future of paint is in the past." Their paint, made from organic flaxseed and linseed oil, has been used for centuries in Europe. The world is catching on to these natural paint mixtures, and each can of paint used is one less can of toxic paint that could have had a negative impact on the earth.
- Photo Credit Naomi Judd
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