The most common wall treatment available is paint. The cans that you find in any hardware or paint store include a long list of toxic compounds that are neither good for the environment nor humans. When these paints dry they create volatile organic compounds or VOCs which disperse into the air which you may breathe in. It can take a long time for some paints to stop producing VOCs which means you could be breathing these toxins in for years. Paints are also hard to recycle and can contaminate underground drinking water if they are disposed improperly.
You may still wait to use paint in your home but want a sustainable, green option. There are a couple choices that are made from natural ingredients which are good for the environment and anyone living in the home.
Milk paint is made from casein, the protein found in milk; colours are attained by using natural pigments found in minerals, metal oxides, clay and salts. The paints come in powder form which would be mixed with water just before painting. The exact amount needed can be mixed and the remaining powder can be saved indefinitely for another project. This means that there is very little waste produced and what ever is left can be safely thrown out since all ingredients come from natural sources.
Positives of Milk Paint
Milk paint dries to an odorless, durable finish, is completely toxic free, food safe and produces no VOCs. This paint is completely biodegradable. You cant actually store premixed paint for very long as it will go rancid. Colours will stay vivid for many years and can be easily touched up with more paint.
Negatives of Milk Paint
Milk paint is porous and can easily stain but is impossible to clean. If you try washing milk paint it will actually wash off. Also, stay away from premixed milk paint as it could spoil or it might be mixed with other not so green ingredients like latex. The positives easily outweigh the negatives.
Organic and Natural Paint
Natural paints are derived from natural sources such as Dammar resin, turpentine, natural rubber latex, carnauba wax, tung oils, vegetable oils, beeswax and a number of other natural ingredients. Just because the label says natural doesn't mean that it will be odor free or non toxic. Some natural ingredients can still be quite irritating to humans but are ultimately better for the environment. Make sure to research specific ingredients and do a smell test to see if the paint will be irritating to your lungs. These paint do produce natural VOCs but whether they are better than manufactured VOCs is still to be determined.
Positives of Natural Paint
Better for the environment and usually created from renewable natural sources. Typically has lower VOCs than other traditional paints. They also breakdown and degrade safer and faster than other paints.
Negatives of Natural Paint
These paints do require proper disposal and clean up similar to traditional paints. Some brands can be quite odorous depending on ingredients. They don't store for as long and colour matching may be limited so touch ups may be tricky.
Silicate Dispersion Paint
While you have probably heard of milk and natural paint you probably have no idea what silicate dispersion paint is. It is made from liquefied potassium silicate which forms a durable, permanent coating when it naturally reacts and binds with calcium salts, silica, ceramics and metals. It can be used like any other paint but finishes into a durable almost rock like coating.
Positives of Silicate Dispersion Paint
Is a durable yet breathable surface which is non combustible, odorless, VOC free, nontoxic and virtually fade free. Very easy to clean as it is water resistant and can last for generations.
Negatives of Silicate Dispersion Paint
The manufacturing process is energy intensive as it requires electrolysis and high temperatures. This may be worth it if you want the finish to last for a very long time without the requirement for many touch ups.
Word of the Day: Wastewater
Water that has been used and contaminated. It must be purified before reusing or returning it to the environment.