You care about your surroundings – both the home that you live in and the earth that we all live in. What’s the best way to balance that when your house needs to be repainted? Read on to learn about how to paint your home just the way you want it without sacrificing sustainability.
Buying eco-friendly products accomplishes two goals: first, you’re buying eco-friendly products! Second, and perhaps more importantly in the long run, you’re telling manufacturers and retailers that sustainability matters. Since commerce revolves around supply and demand, demonstrating demand will drive an increase in supply and more eco-friendly products will make it to market.
You’ll therefore want to make sure that you buy paints, primers, and other supplies that have low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs can irritate the eyes and lungs, and cause nausea and dizziness. Extended exposure has been linked to kidney disease, liver disease, and cancer. VOCs in paints and related products can off-gas for years after application.
The US EPA defines low-VOC as 200 g/L of VOC content, and many paints have much less than that. Most low-VOC paints are water-based, and this offers the additional benefit of being much easier to clean up and dispose of properly.
You can also find natural paint brushes or rollers, as well as drop cloths and other supplies that have been made with sustainability in mind. Another crucial component of painting your home in an eco-friendly way is only buying what you need. Calculate how much paint it will take to cover the areas you plan to paint and buy that much, plus a small bit extra to save for touch-ups. Overbuying will only result in waste.
Clean up Carefully
The other real environmental problem with paint is cleaning it up and disposing of it properly. Paint can be extremely destructive to Mother Earth. “Reduce, reuse, recycle” is the mantra of sustainability, and it’s no different when it comes to paint. As stated above, make sure that you reduce consumption by buying only what you need.
If you have leftover paint or paint products, see what can be reused or repurposed. Is there anything in your house that you’d like to repaint to match your new walls? If you have small amounts of different colors of paint, what would it look like if you mixed them together to create a brand-new hue? Lastly, if you have a significant amount of paint or other products, see if they can be donated. Someone else who couldn’t otherwise afford it might appreciate a chance to freshen up their house as well!
When you’ve exhausted all opportunities to reduce or recycle, you will still have to dispose of your paint properly. It’s important to follow manufacturers’ instructions, so read them carefully. Don’t ever pour paint, thinners, or other solvents down the drain. Do store them in tightly closed cans or jars, and take them to a hazardous waste facility that can dispose of them properly. Place the opened paint cans in a well-ventilated area until the insides are thoroughly dry before putting them in the trash or repurposing them for DIY projects.