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Green paint products – a minefield

Listed under Blog, Eco, Marketing, Mythic paint, paint Posted Oct 01 2008

Over the years I have used all sorts of green paint products. Think Safer Stripper, low odour acrylic paints and granola friendly wood treatments. However my complaint is that, with a few exceptions, Green paint products or “green stuff” doesn’t seem to function or last as well as the traditional unfriendlier products.

Green paint products dilemma

I would rather not be exposed to products that over time could be really detrimental to my health. On the other hand I don’t want to be using products that aren’t effective. There is nothing environmentally friendly about premature failure which also costs me and my customers more in the long run. So where do you find the right balance? Certainly not in the brochures of most mainstream manufacturers! You have to look around.

The Degree of Green Program

Let’s face it, the green market is just another opportunity for many manufacturers to rebrand or relaunch their product lines. Much of the information is disingenuous. For instance, I could not promote acrylic paints as green. Low odour paint may be friendly to use, but when you delve into the ecologicals, the wheels fall off. Audit the production process of leading waterborne acrylics and you see where most of the environmental damage is done – at source, out of sight of end-users!

Fortunately, The Degree of Green program is making a concerted effort to educate the public about effective green building and paint products on the market. Over time, their work should make it harder for manufacturers to gloss over the bad side of “green”. The experts have analysed, compared and published product facts in plain English. They are a new venture and so far their product list is small but perfectly formed.

SafeCoat from AFM for the US market

Safecoat® products go much further to protect your health. In addition to meeting the highest standards of environmental responsibility, we also eliminate toxic ingredients such as solvents, heavy metals, chemical residuals, formaldehyde and other harmful preservatives.

The first sponsors of the Degree of Green program make a clay plaster, a shiny roof coating and fire beads . These are all shining examples of useful products that actually work without killing the operatives, the homeowner and the environment.

It would be great if this project takes off and we can all get a definitive list of useful and durable products that are actually green from production to application and beyond. Safecoat does claim to be friendly all through the production process.

UK green paint products

In the meantime, I have found some green products in the UK that are worth a look. Newlife Paints are recycled, which is the most effective way to not pollute. And Mythic from the USA is a very low VOC low odour paint that certainly performs as well as the best “nasties”!

Update April 2020

By 2020 greenwashing becomes a recognised marketing dupe. The list of dodgy eco, environmentally responsible eco green paint products is too long for the good of our health. Let’s just say the day you label an abrasive as eco, we instinctively know there is something wrong. But by 2020 we do see more bona fide products from manufacturers like Graphenstone. They understand that greenwashing simply won’t wash with a growing market of climate conscious consumers.

Mythic Paints who are no longer in the UK market, played by American rules in terms of labelling their VOC content. It took a while to understand that zero in the US meant under 5%.

Newlife Paints continue their sterling work trying to reuse the vast literage of unused paint in the UK marketplace. Their chief chemist, Keith Harrison, has helped many Traditional Painter readers over the years with his clear technical explanations. He had a lot to say about such topics as “Why emulsion paint crazes over acrylic caulk“.

And where are Safecoat these days? Looks like they are doing well with over “45 planet-friendly building products designed to create a healthier world.” This study of primers reducing formaldehyde emissions (PDF) is food for thought.

Degree of Green

was started back in 2007 as a rating system to educate consumers and retailers about the different facets of green.  But today, Degree of Green is an educational portal to teach people how to build healthy AND green.  

Their first sponsors are still in business too!

Pollution is detrimentally affecting painters, homeowners and the environment at large. Everyone in the decorating industry would be advised to pursue green business practices. The market increasingly demands it even if you don’t.



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