When we think of painting our home or work space, we think of blue, pink, cream, red… they look so beautiful on the walls, right? The prospect of getting our rooms painted a new colour is so exciting; getting to choose the colours and imagine them all around us! However, we do not think of the impact it has on the environment around us… Did you ever think of the fact that this beautiful-looking palate of colours can cause so much damage?
The conventional paints that we use are available in dozens of colours. But, they are not green; at least not in the ideal way. Most of these paints use VOC- volatile organic compounds that help hold the ingredients and bind them while they are in the tin, but are then released when the paint is applied; and hence facilitate the escape of harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, which cause immense pollution. Not only on the environment, these released toxins cause a variety of problems to the human anatomy and physiology as well, including breathing problems and asthma, headache, metabolic issues, kidney damage, dizziness and at times on exposure to lethal doses, even cancer. They even contain, in addition to VOC, fungal and bacterial cidal chemicals, -to prevent their growth and hence increase the span and shelf life of the paint. These may also cause respiratory issues and may contain some chemicals that are allergens. Even the pigments that provide these beautiful shades of the paint contain pigments that are not from natural sources, thus acting as chemically polluting agents.
Not only us, these paints affect the whole environment around us in different and unpleasant ways. For one, when the tin is opened, the assimilated contents of it evaporate, hence releasing the greenhouse gases and other such toxic chemicals. The ozone layer is already depleting at such an alarming rate- hence allowing excessive harmful heat rays which in turn melt polar ice caps, hence sea levels are rising and all such related, and SERIOUS issues. To top this all, population increase, automobile exhaust pollution, etcetera etcetera… our planet has enough burden already thanks to us, why not try our best to at least reduce it as much as possible?
It seems like a small issue, but it isn’t. You aren’t the only one painting your bedroom, office and your child’s playroom. All over the world, the assimilated toxic products are pretty destructive! Especially since it’s not only wall-paint, but even furniture wood and other such related items that we keep splashing paint on. This is the reason why, there are alternate kind of paint has been introduced; which is eco friendly and does not cause ailments in our tracts also.
Certified green paints, which help us reduce our carbon footprint and keep ourselves also healthier, contain low or no VOCs. They may be latex based, water based, are free of binders, plasticizers and include chemicals that are non or less toxic. They have decent durability, they improve indoor air quality, reduce urban smog and have relatively less of the repulsive and toxic odor. They also have a washable finish! In fact, paint can even be made out of the popular milk protein; casein. This includes lime, which is calcium carbonate and is in powder form, so no binders are required and are mixed with water just before application. These were commonly used in the 18th and 19th century, and our predecessors obviously knew what they were doing!
These environment- phillic paints may be a little more expensive, but the ones with low- VOC are quite long lasting as well, even if the natural ones are not as much. Even eco friendly wood finishes and wood oils are better alternatives than the current ones we use today, and are not too steep either. They have their own unique beauty and finish; not to mention being kinder towards people who are sensitive to chemicals and allergens.
However, this option does have its drawbacks. Adding colour can up voc content, so the choice of colours may be less. Natural paints are not as long lasting either, and so may be a little heavy on the pockets. Also, outdoor paints cannot be free of fungicides, which may seep into the groundwater and make it unfit for consumption. The best option would be one that uses zinc oxide, since it keeps milds and mildew away, and try not to use oil based paints. Interior paints may be made of milk proteins, minerals, citrus or may be balsamic. Lead-free paints are advised, as they allow internal circulation and lead is a very potent toxin.
But overall, these new and cool types of paints and finishes are a much better option than the ones we generally use. Apart from our own internal protection, they go easy on our surrounding spheres and in general, just reduce the burden that we are creating on this planet.
Gone are the days when we can just say “chalta hai”, because now every small step counts. This is your earth, your planet, your future. So it is your responsibility… let us help revitalize our environment- TOGETHER!