Donnachadh McCarthy: The Home Ecologist

Eco paints have come a long way – and once you've used them, you'll never go back

A A A

"Acid yellow, lime green and Spanish rose? You can't be serious?" Such were the cries from friends when they heard I was planning to re-paint my living room. I had discovered the fun interactive tool on the website of the organic paint company Ecos, which allows you to paint the different walls and ceiling of a virtual room in the various colours from their range. While admittedly I did tone down the acid yellow a tad, I was thrilled with the results. The yellow paint especially means the downstairs bursts with exuberance when the sun is out.

OK, you may not be convinced about my interior design credentials, but the same friends have all now accepted that their fears were unfounded. Almost without exception they loved the new colour scheme and indeed one from the ranks of these doubters, who lives in a designer minimalist habitat, claims I have invented a new aesthetic that he is rather jealous of.

Still unconvinced? Well, rest assured. Organic paints have come on in leaps and bounds over the past decade, and they also come in more subtle colours. My first experiences with them, over 10 years ago, involved messy mixing of pigment powders and base paint. Some of the external gloss paints were also disappointing as they crumpled into dust within a year. However, the clever souls at Ecos Paints have put an end to all that with hardy long-wearing gloss paints and a wide range of beautiful ready-mixed colour emulsions . They even have the British Allergy Foundation stamp of approval.

I became interested in alternatives to petrochemical-based paints after reading about their health risks. The industry uses a wide range of chemical compounds such as pigments, extenders, binders, solvents and additives. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified painting as an occupationally related cause of cancer, having found numerous scientific studies showing a higher incidence of cancers among professional painters. The British Coating Federation is also concerned about the issues associated with VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds – solvents widely used in paints that evaporate when being used and even when the paint is dry) and laudably developed a labelling system to warn consumers about the VOC contents of the tin of paint they were buying. It varies from "Low" (under 8 per cent) to "Very high" (over 50 per cent). Have a look at the paint tins in your cupboard to see where yours rate.

But even the lowest amount of VOCs seems unnecessary once you've used organic paints. A friend who recently switched to organic paints, was so pleased with the lack of chemical fumes that he swore never to use petrochemical paints again.

The mainstream paint industry faces a range of environmental challenges. It is based on non-renewable petrochemicals, creates large waste streams during production, and some VOC's are greenhouse gases.

A recent visitor said to me, "Donnachadh, you are always banging on about how green your house is, but you never talk about how beautiful it is." Now there is a visitor who will be asked back again, soon.

* For more information visit www.ecospaints.com

Donnachadh McCarthy works as an eco-auditor and is author of 'Easy Eco-auditing'. www.3acorns.co.uk

News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence