Photograph provided by Equipo-drt.

If you’re like me and enjoy a Saturday night in front of the TV, you were probably moved by Britain’s Got Talent – SOS From The Kids?! In part 1 we discussed how fabric has come along leaps and bounds to try and reduce its effect on global warming, now I would like to see if paint and wallpaper are covering up their own cracks. Again, posing the same question, are we doing enough?

Applying Paint

When enquiring with my paint suppliers about their products, they all agreed that the biggest change was packaging, in particular paint tins. All are now using 50% recycled steel and the packaging itself is made from recycled materials i.e. paper. This is great news, as this reduces production of new items, plus, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right? Although, the same question came to mind as with fabrics in part 1, if the tin is already used out of recycled steel, can it be re-recycle once we are finished with it?

As I mentioned in part 1 a lot of my suppliers are complying with EU Regulation – REACH, which applies to both printing ink and paints to ensure they are humanely and environmentally friendly. However, I was still left slightly confused when speaking with my suppliers. The good news is that most of my supplier’s paints are completely water-based, vegan friendly and low -VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds – these contribute to atmospheric pollution), making the product as eco-friendly as possible. It means that you get a much further coverage – great for both production cost and my clients pocket! – plus, you only require water and soap when cleaning the brushes, which reduces chemical use and less water used. The issue is paint can never be solvent free.

Vine House Interiors
Photograph provided by Elizabeth Ockford.

Wallcoverings

This leads me nicely into Wallpaper. My initial question to my suppliers was “Do you have any wallpapers that are eco-friendly/made from recycled materials?” Arte International gave me the best response yet, “As for your question: it is not a simple one to answer” and here is why. Wallpaper can be made from recycled paper, natural plant-based fibers, use water-based inks for printing, you can do everything to try and make it 100% eco-friendly, however it just cannot be done.

The good news is that a high number of suppliers on the market are now using recycled paper and again are using eco-friendly inking and bleaching products to create their designs. They are also using papers from FSC or PEFC certified sources (both for product and packaging), which means they are protecting our forests and using only responsibly sourced timber. They are also using recycled plastic, which is fantastic, however the base product is still plastic. And whilst we can produce paper in the most eco-friendly way, you still have the industrial process and the final application which are not kind on the environment. The paste/glue used to hang wallpaper is not eco-friendly and in fact not one of my suppliers mentioned the paste they provide, which leads me to believe that it has a high chemical dosage. So, once it has been hung how do we then recycle the paper that is now covered in paste? Or is there an eco-friendly paste on the market?

In fact, the only 100% eco-friendly product for walls would be mud from the ground!

Regarding the wallpaper and paints, I think we are searching every avenue to make it as environmentally friendly as possible, but how can we develop the paste to join it? And much like the paint, how to we dispose of the tins and paper correctly when finished? One thing for certain is that the person who cracks it, will be set to make a killing!

Click here to read Part 3

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