Back in the day, the only green friend folks had was Kermit the Frog. Nowadays, my little green friend is one of my neighbors who doesn’t approve of my SUV or my little guy’s disposable diapers. We’re friends anyways though, because she knows I do care about the environment. And during a recent snowstorm when her car was completely immobilized, she warmed up to my 4×4 that rescued her so she could buy last minute Christmas gifts and groceries.
During that short trip, I shared with my green friend that I might take on a paint project or two around my house for the New Year. She suggested I look into green paint. At first I thought she meant the color green which seemed odd, but I quickly realized she wasn’t talking color. Her suggestion seemed a bit over the top. Being the green paint greenie that I was, I decided to do some research.
Getting Schooled in Green
Green paint has been around for years. It was developed after studies indicated the fumes related to paint were harmful to people and to the environment. The emissions are specifically VOC’s (volatile organic compounds). VOC’s are found in high concentrations in paint pigments. They are known to cause short term respiratory irritations, headaches, and nausea. They may contribute to significant long term health issues including some forms of cancer, too.
The first green paints were quite pricey. They were mostly used by large project commercial designers as companies began to strive for green compatibility and certifications. For everyday use in homes, the cost was high and the palette selection was less than palatable. The durability of green paints was less than ideal for homes, too.
As public awareness has increased, paint manufacturers have responded. Today, big name paint stores like Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams offer extensive color paletts for homeowners that tout a low or zero VOC promise. The cost per gallon ranges from around $35 to $50.
Green certification companies such as Greenseal, Greenguard, and Green Promise set and uphold codes and standards for green paints, so look for their verifications when selecting a green paint. You can also visit their websites to help locate green paint retailers.
While developing solutions to lower levels of VOC’s, some paint retailers are using natural resources and recycling methods to reduce environmental impact. Paints are being produced with earth elements like clay, chalk, lime, and mineral pigments such as sienna and ultramarine.
So How Safe is Green Paint?
Based on the current trend of rapidly increasing production of natural-based, recycled, and low to no VOC paint, it’s relatively safe for even a greenie like me to predict that conventional paints are becoming less and less conventional. Kind of like lead paint became a not so cool paint option a few short decades ago.
I admit that I feel a bit irresponsible for not knowing more details about green paint sooner. Now that I’m aware of how long it takes for those paint emissions to actually be released from our homes and how long those emissions create less than ideal indoor air quality, I’m feeling mighty guilty about the potential damage I’ve done to my children’s health. This alone motivates me to go green. So, to make up for my ignorance, I’ll be choosing green paint products in the future. It’s safer for my family and for the environment. Its cost, color options, and durability are comparable to ordinary paint, so I’m hands down sold. I’ll make it a point to have more eco-friendly conversations with my green friend this New Year, too, especially when we’re riding in my 4×4!