Eco-Friendly Painting: Low-VOC Paints and Sustainable Practices

Trying to live an environmentally friendly existence extends to many different aspects of your day-to-day life, including redecorating. Eco-friendly painting is emerging as a trend—one that is healthier for both you and the planet.

Trying to live an environmentally friendly existence extends to many different aspects of your day-to-day life, including redecorating. Eco-friendly painting is emerging as a trend—one that is healthier for both you and the planet. Join Contrast Painting as we show you how to make your painting process greener (and we’re not talking about the colour).

Sustainability: Understanding the Impact

The cornerstone of eco-friendly painting involves the use of low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and sustainable practices throughout the painting process. So, firstly, let’s figure out what VOCs are. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature, releasing gases into the air. They are commonly found in traditional paints and include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have adverse health effects.

Sustainable practices refer to methods and techniques used in painting that aim to reduce waste, minimise the use of harmful chemicals, and conserve natural resources while maintaining high-quality results. As awareness grows and technology advances, the options for eco-friendly painting will continue to expand. Let’s take a closer look at a few of them.

Low-VOC Paints

Low-VOC and zero-VOC paints are designed to minimise the release of harmful gases. Low-VOC paints contain fewer than 50 grams per litre (g/L) of VOCs for flat finishes and less than 150 g/L for other finishes. Zero-VOC paints typically have fewer than 5 g/L of VOCs, making them an even safer option for the environment.

The benefits of using these paints include:

  • Reduced Health Risks: It’s better for you. Traditional paints release VOCs into the air, which can cause short-term health effects such as headaches, dizziness, and nausea, as well as long-term effects, including respiratory problems, liver and kidney damage, and even cancer. You do not want to get too far down on that list! Low-VOC paints emit fewer harmful chemicals, significantly reducing these health risks and also contributing to improved indoor air quality. This is particularly important in enclosed spaces where ventilation may be limited
  • Reduced Environmental Impact: It’s better for the planet. VOCs are significant air pollutants that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone and smog. By using low-VOC paints, the release of these compounds is minimised, leading to lower levels. Many manufacturers of low-VOC paints are committed to sustainable practices, using renewable resources and reducing energy consumption during production. Also, low-VOC paints often contain biodegradable ingredients, which means they break down more naturally and cause less harm to the environment when disposed of properly.
  • Improved Painting Experience: What’s that weird smell? If you decide to go eco, it’s not your paint. One of the most noticeable benefits of low-VOC paints is the significant reduction in odour. This makes the painting process more pleasant and less irritating for both painters and occupants. You can also move back into the space sooner since there is less need for extensive ventilation during and after painting.

Sustainable Painting Practices

In addition to choosing low-VOC paints, adopting sustainable painting practices further enhances the eco-friendliness of a painting project. These practices encompass the entire lifecycle of the painting process, from selecting materials to disposal.

  • Choosing Eco-Friendly Paints: Natural and organic paints are made from natural ingredients such as plant oils, clay, chalk, and milk protein. They are biodegradable and often free from synthetic chemicals. Recycled paint is made by reprocessing leftover paint, reducing waste and the demand for new raw materials. Water-based paints significantly reduce the use of harmful solvents. They are also easier to clean up with water, reducing the need for toxic cleaning agents.
  • Proper Surface Preparation: Eco-friendly cleaners use biodegradable and non-toxic cleaners for surface preparation. You can also minimise waste by measuring surfaces accurately in order to purchase the correct amount of paint, reducing excess. It will save you over-spending too!
  • Tools and Equipment: Choose high-quality brushes and rollers that can be cleaned and reused multiple times. For your dropcloths, try using canvas or other sustainable materials instead of plastic.
  • Waste Management: Follow local regulations for disposing of paint and cleaning materials to avoid contaminating water supplies. Utilise recycling programs for leftover paints and materials.

A Greener Future

Australia’s paint industry is evolving to meet the growing demand for eco-friendly products, reflecting global trends.

  • Advanced Formulas: Advances in paint technology have led to low-VOC paints that provide excellent coverage, often requiring fewer coats. This is particularly beneficial for large projects and reduces the overall environmental footprint by minimising paint usage. Consumers can choose from a variety of specialised eco-friendly paints, including those that are mildew-resistant for humid regions, UV-resistant for high-sun areas, and weather-resistant for coastal environments.
  • Green Certifications: Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) certification ensures that products meet high environmental standards, including reduced VOC levels, minimal use of hazardous substances, and sustainable manufacturing practices. Managed by the Green Building Council of Australia, Green Star is a comprehensive rating system for the design, construction, and operation of sustainable buildings. Paints that contribute to Green Star credits are preferred in green building projects across the country. Additional certifications like EcoSpecifier and the Australian Paint Approval Scheme (APAS) also help consumers identify products that meet environmental and performance standards.
  • Sustainable Solutions: Australian manufacturers are developing biodegradable paints designed to break down naturally without harming the environment. This is crucial for reducing the ecological impact of paint disposal. Many biodegradable paints in Australia are made from renewable, plant-based ingredients such as linseed oil, eucalyptus oil, and casein (milk protein). These natural components replace petroleum-based chemicals, making the paints safer for the environment. Companies are also focusing on sustainable packaging solutions, including using recycled materials, reducing plastic use, and designing containers that are easier to recycle.

Embrace Eco-consciousness with Contrast Painting

Contrast Painting may aspire to create visual masterpieces, but customer satisfaction is important to us, too. If your next painting project requires an eco-friendly eye, we are here to help you clear your eco-conscience. Our expertise will transform your home and paint a brighter, greener future. Get in touch today!

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