Five of the best eco paints

With most of us spending around 90% of our time indoors, the quality of our indoor air is more important than ever. The cocktail of chemicals we use in our homes in cleaning products, synthetic furniture (MDF etc) and even cooking fumes can seriously damage our bodies. If you think about the surface area you cover when redecorating walls and woodwork with paint, choosing an eco friendly paint can be a smart choice if you want to not only reduce your environmental impact but also look after your health.

The good news is that there are are lots of ‘eco friendly’ paints available these days, but navigating exactly what that means can be confusing. Don’t be fooled by paints being simply labelled ‘water based’, because plenty of toxic chemicals can be suspended in water.

There are two main factors to consider when making you choice. Firstly, the ingredients: Shockingly, there is no legal requirement for paint companies in the UK to list their ingredients, but any reputable company should be able to provide you with a list if you ask for it. When checking ingredients, remember that just because something is ‘natural’, it doesn’t mean it is not harmful to humans or the environment. There is also no such thing as VOC-free paint but there are legal limits. Look at the grams of VOC per litre (g/l) -a paint with less than 4g/l is classified as minimal VOC.

Secondly, consider how the paint is produced and what environmental and sustainability credentials the company has. Production processes, transport and waste will all have an impact.

Here are my five great eco paints that you could consider if you are redecorating:

Farrow and Ball

Farrow and Ball jitney

Farrow and Ball were one of the first companies to produce an almost entirely water-based range of paints, which all exceed the legal requirements for minimal and low VOCs. They are safe for children’s furniture and toys, being certified to meet Toy Safety Standards and for pets (I even painted a cot using their paint, knowing my baby would chew on the bars and I am one paranoid parent). They also recycle almost all their waste, source their ingredients responsibly, use FSC certified paper for all their brochures and colour cards and don’t test on animals.

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Little Greene

Little Green 13_intelligent_finishes

All Little Greene’s water-based paints are virtually odourless and their oil-based paints are made from sustainable vegetable oils. Their Absolute Matt Emulsion, Intelligent Matt Emulsion and Intelligent Eggshell paints meet toy regulation standards and are safe for babies and children. Little Greene also recycles its waste, the paints are produced in the UK, so no air miles, and they don’t test on animals.

Little Greene’s sister company is Paint and Paper Library, which has the same credentials.

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Earthborn paints Kitchen-ft.-walls-in-Peach-Baby-and-cupboards-in-Secret-Room

Earthborn was established as a designer ‘eco paint’ company back in 2002 and prides itself on being awarded the first UK license of the EU Ecolabel for indoor paints and varnishes. All their products have a full list of ingredients and do not contain any acrylics or oils. Earthborn paints have good breathability and the moisture absorbing qualities of their Claypaint helps even out the humidity in a room, making for a healthier, more comfortable living environment. The clay in Earthborn Claypaint emits negative ions; higher ambient levels of negative ions are widely accepted as being beneficial to health and wellbeing, especially for allergy and asthma sufferers and Claypaint’s high clay content helps to destroy airborne odours and contaminants. Earthborn claims that this paint results in less static electricity build up, reducing dust and allergens.

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Graphenstone is the brainchild of a chemical engineer who dedicated himself to the idea of developing a natural, ecological and health conscious paint for the 21st century. Their unique lime paint is created through using a 100% natural and environmentally friendly production cycle, using traditional techniques, but adding a new ingredient called graphene, which makes it more durable.  Graphenstone’s paints are free from VOCs, carcinogens or toxic substances and amazingly also reduce carbon dioxide from the air inside your home in similar quantities to a tree. Due to a natural process, when the lime is carbonating, it absorbs CO2 from the ambient air and cleans the air that you breathe.

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Painthouse is a new British paint company that makes almost VOC -free paints, meaning that they have almost no smell. Suitable for children’s rooms and for those with allergies, you can sleep in a newly painted room the same day without worrying about breathing in fumes. Painthouse paints also need no primer and are easy to apply. They dry to a smooth, matt finish and marks can be easily wiped away with a damp cloth.

Being UK based means there are no air miles involved.

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