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June 21, 2024

Best eco paints: Add colour with environmentally friendly and non-toxic paints

If you’re bored of looking at the same four walls, you’re not alone – and if you’re thinking they’d look better with a fresh lick of paint, then you’re definitely not alone.

Founder of London’s first environmentally friendly painting and decorating company, Paint The Town Green, Phil Robinson believes a surge of interest in eco-friendly paints has been driven by the public’s growing awareness of environmental issues, as well as by high-profile endorsement.

“Meghan Markle using vegan paint in her baby’s nursery made more people aware about the impact of what they’re putting on their walls,” says Robinson. “Also homeowners are more aware of environmental issues and toxic fumes now.”

But what exactly is an eco-paint?  

“Confusingly there isn’t a specific, industry-wide list of criteria for something to be called eco-paint so the precise definition of it can be tricky,” explains Robinson. As a rule, eco-paint contains sustainable, non-toxic ingredients and/or is manufactured in ways that are kinder to the environment. You also would expect eco-paints to have few volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in them, which as Robinson explains are the bad fumes that come out of paint when it’s used.

“Those fumes last for weeks afterwards and as we’re now spending more time at home due to Covid-19 we all need to think more about our indoor climate as well as the outdoor one. Many conventional paints give off higher levels of VOCs and those fumes can trigger respiratory issues such as asthma, nausea and general feelings of lethargy and unwellness.”

“Whilst in the past choice of colour and finish were an issue, there’s now a lot more choice and formulations of eco paints have significantly improved over the years”, says Robinson. “Despite a wide range for interiors, the options for exteriors are not as expansive, but even here products are better than they were a decade ago.”

What should you look out for?

With more and more choice and bigger brands jumping on the bandwagon, Robinson advises checking companies’ eco-credentials to make sure you’re not being ‘greenwashed’.

“If you’re looking for a good eco paint, check the label. Some paints contain seemingly great things like natural oils but then sometimes you need chemicals like white spirit, rather than water to wash them off the paintbrush.

Watch out for paints claiming to be VOC-free as paint industry body, the British Coatings Federation, says such claims are: ‘misleading consumers…and contravene the UK government’s guidance on green claims, as there is no such thing as a ‘Zero VOC paint’.”  

With the most sustainable option being to reduce the amount of times you repaint, it’s important to keep in mind quality, durability and longevity. As Robinson points out, it’s all about finding a balance between performance and principle.

Once considered a niche area, we were excited to discover such a variety of eco paint choices with endless colour options, formulations and finishes. For a multitude of reasons, including ease of application, colour that delivers and their impressive eco-credentials Eicó, get our top pick. Earthborn’s claypaint range, and exquisite colour options, are also worth checking out, especially for older homes due to the paint’s breathability.

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