Picture this: you’ve just moved into your new home. All of the walls and furniture are bright builder’s white and you can’t wait to paint over it. But the paint you’re about to use probably isn’t toxin-free paint. The fresh-paint smell that makes you feel proud after a long day of painting is not necessarily good for your health.
What makes Paint “Toxic”?
Most store-brand paints have chemicals called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Leading with the word “volatility” makes these chemicals sound scarier than they are. All it means is that some of the chemicals in the paint evaporate in a normal room. The VOCs in your paint are what make them so easy to paint with and part of why the colors look as rich and bright as they do.
But many VOCs are known carcinogens. If you smear those brightly-colored VOCs all over your walls, you probably won’t notice the effects immediately. However, if your house is poorly ventilated or you use a lot of paint at once, you may feel headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Less irritating paints only result in eye, throat, and skin irritation. In more extreme cases, overexposure to these paint fumes could lead to liver damage, kidney damage, and even contribute to the development of cancer. If that wasn’t enough reason to switch to toxin-free paint, there’s a great environmental impact, too.
The Environment Cares which Paint I use?
Fine, it may not actually care. But it does notice. When high-VOC paint reacts with the nitrogen in the air, it depletes the ozone layer and contributes to urban smog. One household might not make a difference, but how many people have just painted new homes for their families? How many have just decided to repaint their homes? All of this adds up to impact our planet. Thankfully, there are options available that benefit the people in your home and reduce pollutants released into the environment. More and more people are switching to toxin-free paint.
What alternatives do I have for toxin-free paint?
There are plenty of paint brands that you can choose from that have low or zero-VOC paints. For starters, you can visit Home Depot’s page that shows you their toxin-free paint options. Home Depot is a massive distributor, so if you can find it there, that’s probably the easiest way to go.
Other companies produce toxin-free paint exclusively. ECOS Paints produces zero-VOC paints, wood varnishes, primers, and stains. They even have pet-friendly paints to help keep your pets safe and healthy.
If you don’t want to look into specialty brands, Behr, Sherwin-Williams, and Benjamin Moore offer low and zero-VOC paints. All of these paints seem to perform just as well as conventional paints, so you don’t have to sacrifice paint quality. Even better, most of these paints don’t cost very much more than a $30-gallon drum from Home Depot. It’s a win-win!
There’s a BIG Caveat though
Toxin-free paint does have fewer harmful fumes than traditional paints. However, the colorant that’s added to it probably doesn’t. When you go to Home Depot to pick out the right shade of lavender for your room, you’ll get a base color and an additive that will change the paint color to your perfect shade of lavender. A lot of times, that additive has those same VOCs that you tried to avoid.
If you want your paint to really live up to your wildest expectations, you need to make sure that everything you use is VOC-free. Don’t spend all that time and energy keeping your home healthy with conscious choices, only to throw it away because you thought the slightly lighter lavender would make the room look bigger. Read the fine print so you know what’s going in your paint and, more importantly, in your home.
Now you’re a Healthy + Conscious Homeowner
Imagine that you’ve just spent three hours painting your walls. Now your home can look good and you can feel good about your hard work. Choosing to be a conscious consumer doesn’t mean sacrificing quality or your wallet. It simply means being mindful about how you spend your money and the impact those purchases have on the people around you and our planet. There are new conscious products being developed every day, whether it’s the paint on your walls or the credit card in your wallet. What other purchases can you make that will make the world a better place?
Photo by Bench Accounting