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A Brush with Happiness

We’re loving our newly refurbished premises here at the Wardrobe.

We followed our own advice and had a good clearout, admitted that even if we sewed every day for the rest of our lives we would probably not use up all the fabric and threads we had collected. Oh, how good it felt to pass them all on to other projects that can use them.

Once the new kitchen was in place and our all the little jobs had been done to smarten up our events room, we turned our minds to painting. At this point, we must thank all the volunteers who willingly came in to help.

We love the transformative power of paint. It is a relatively cheap way of sprucing up a room, or a piece of furniture and, while we would rather not waste time and money, we always feel that if we have been a bit too daring, we can always re-paint it.

Paint? Isn’t that one of those things we have seen with the prefix ‘eco-friendly’?

We’re just a tiny bit sceptical sometimes, and are only too well aware of greenwashing – companies making unsubstantiated claims to deceive consumers into believing that their products are environmentally friendly, or have a greater positive environmental impact than they actually do – so we did a little digging.

What are the claims of environmentally friendly paints?

Environmentally friendly paints contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

OK, so what are VOCs?

They are compounds that have a high vapour pressure and low water solubility and they are a potential problem. Exposure to high levels may cause damage to the liver, kidney or central nervous system. Yikes!

However, if they are found in domestic paints at all, it’s in negligible quantities.

So, that’s a ‘yes’ to greenwashing as there is really no need to mention them at all.

Environmentally friendly paints have ‘Lower VOCs’?

We have already established that you won’t find VOCs in the paint itself, so this claim is based on how the company conducts itself. While it’s good news, it does not mean the actual paint in the tin is any better for the environment.

We have other questions about which paint to buy.

Is more expensive paint better for the environment?

When you pay extra, you are primarily paying for the colour. The more expensive paint is likely to be made by smaller manufacturers who are paying more for the ingredients. So, no. It’s not necessarily better for the planet.

We’ve really started thinking more about paint now …..

What exactly is in a tin of paint?

· Pigment (the colour)

· Binder (as the name suggests, brings everything together)

· Solvent (give you a hard finish. It is often water in a paint designed for domestic use)

· Additives. Substances like turpentine oil and white spirit are added to prevent defects such as foam bubbles, or to impart specific properties to the paint like easier application or flame retardance.

What’s the difference between cheap and expensive paint?

The main difference is that cheaper paint has more solvent so you need to apply more coats to get a nice finish. Because there is less solvent in the expensive brands, the paint is slightly thicker in application so gives better coverage.

Oh, there’s a lot to think about.

What is Trade Paint?

Trade paint a higher quality paint that is made for professional painters and decorators, but here’s the thing. You do not have to be a professional to buy it. It’s available to everyone, though you will probably have to go to a specialist store to find it.

The paint you find in the high street and DIY stores is commercial paint, designed with DIY customers in mind. It’s a lower quality and, generally, the cheaper option.

The experts tell us that in general trade paint is best, but they also admit that the final result is down to the skills of the painter more than the paint they are using. Hmmm ……

Before we go, let’s finish off our with a shout out to Little Greene, an independent, family-run, British paint manufacturer committed to socially and environmentally responsible production of high quality paints and wallpapers.

They are now offering Re-Mix, a collection of left-over, unwanted paints, reformulated into a matt finish for interior walls and ceilings. These upcycled paints come in individual batches in an initial, limited run of 20 colours.

Upcycling these waste paints prevents as much as 60,000 litres of high-quality mineral and organic raw materials from going to waste each year. Nice!

We can’t resist hitting you with one more statistic.

Over 50 million tonnes of paint are left unwanted in homes and garages each year.

We realise, to our shame, that we are contributing to that.

The answer is obviously to get it listed on Marketplace or Gumtree. There could be somebody out there who just needs a small amount of our Ocean Blue paint to finish off their project.

Firing up the computer right now!

PS. Other paints companies may well be dealing with their left-over, wanted paint too.


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