Walls are one of the biggest surfaces in our homes so why aren't we more concerned about the materials we put on them? You probably know about the health issues surrounding lead paint which thankfully is not used anymore, but make sure to use a professional if trying to remove it. Technology has come a long way and so has the number of paint products available to you.
Traditional latex paint products smell awful and inhaling paint fumes can lead to irritated eyes, headaches, dizziness, difficulty breathing, and, over prolonged periods of time organ damage especially to the kidney, brain and liver. To protect yourself while painting here are a few tips:
- Keep the area well ventilated by opening windows and using fans for two - three days
- Cover all surfaces not being painted so they don't absorb particles
- Light a candle to burn away some of the particles
- Wear a mask and googles
- Wash your face and hands thoroughly after painting
VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds) are being released into the air and there are many products available that state they are low or no VOC, but if you have a specific chemical sensitivity it is important to check product data sheets because low or no VOC doesn't mean there aren't other harmful chemicals in the product.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has a list of Ecolabels for product recommendations. Specifically for interior paint a few relevant labels are:
- Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard
- GreenSeal 11 Standard for Paints, Coatings, Stains, and Sealers
- GreenSeal 43 Standard for Recycled Content Latex Paints
- Master Painters Institute (MPI®) Extreme Green.
- GREENGUARD and GREENGUARD Gold Certification
If you are looking for natural interior paint lime, clay or milk paint are good alternatives to traditional water based synthetic paints and each has its own pro's and con's.
Lime paint is crushed limestone, but chemicals may be added to create different tints (colors) so look for a product that uses organic or earth pigments. The result is usually a matte or suede like finish with no sheen. With no acrylic it will absorb into natural materials which makes lime paint a good choice for painting brick. Clay and chalk paints may not hold up well to frequent cleaning or in locations such as bathrooms. Milk paint is 100% natural, toxin free, biodegradable and often comes in powder form. Use a natural oil or wax as a top coat for added protection. Some paint companies you might want to check out:
- JH Wall Paint
- RomaBio - EcoDomus
- BioShield Clay Paint
- Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
- Real Milk Company - SafePaint
All paints have minerals, a binder and solvent so it is critical to do your homework if you know you are sensitive to a specific chemical. Also, the ease of application and desired look may sway you to use one product over another. Share a picture of your latest painting project on one of our social media channels.
Below are some brands we believe are going above an beyond to provide sustainable products and our Inspiring Reads section has recommendations for books on the history of paint and healthy living.
Thanks for reading,
We may receive a small commission from the links below, but we think these companies are worth sharing.
Inspiring Reads -
Fund literacy and protect the planet when you buy books from Certified B Corporation, Better World Books. We hope the books mentioned below inspire your journey.
In Case You Missed It -
AKS - Two sisters passionate about women's development and the planet established Aks which in Urdu language means reflection. 80% of women's lives in emergent nations is connected to textiles so they focus on manufacturing a product connected to the lives of women. Hand embroidered sneakers are made using Fairtrade certified organic cotton with 100% natural rubber outer soles. No plastic, no man made synthetics, no toxic chemicals and no blends makes it safer for the women picking the cotton and saves 92% water compared to conventional cotton. The hand embroidery preserves a heritage craft and results are comfortable, beautiful, one of a kind, lightweight, naturally bio-degradable sneakers. What you wear is a reflection of you so shop AKS now.
VIVAIA offers a wide selection of comfortable, stylish women's shoes that are eco-friendly and zero waste by using upcycled materials and 3D technology. Plastic bottles are recycled to make thread, wool comes from happy sheep, infused herbs neutralize insole odors, carbon-free outsoles, simple packaging from recycled cardboard and a commitment to audit and monitor factory conditions for fair, safe employee first working conditions using renewable energy. Flats are machine washable, heeled shoes hand washing recommended. Click on your personal style and step into conscious comfort.
Santicler manufactures beautiful, easy to care for women's apparel, made with nontoxic materials from renewable resources for the lowest environmental impact . Committed to social responsibility, material ethically sourced and zero waste processes. Packaging is recycled or biodegradable materials without compromising on quality. As summer winds down we encourage you to jump to their site and get ready for cooler weather with soft, luxurious apparel and accessories. Shop Santicler products.
East Fork Pottery takes a stand for social equality. Partnering with community outreach organizations to stretch outside their comfort zone; paying employees a living wage, they are now working towards increasing wages to a family living wage. Receiving Carbon Neutral Certification and B Corporation Certification has inspired them to make even greater changes. East Fork's About Page was part of our inspiration for starting The Savvy Elephant. AND we haven't even touched on how stunning and beautiful their pottery is! See for yourself by clicking through to the East Fork Website.
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