Thursday, June 24, 2010


Stonecrop. The color looks like neither stones, nor a crop. It is the color of paint we have chosen to paint our master bedroom. Who makes up these names anyway? What a cool job to have. There are hundreds of thousands of paint colors and all of them have unique names. Who's the guy who gets to dub a certain light purple "Dusty Lavender" or a pale yellow "Buttermilk?" Whoever it is, it's one lucky Joe. But I digress...

The heat is oppressive here (it's 115 today) so any weekend projects that I plan will probably need to be indoor things. Number one on my indoor to-do list: Paint The Bedroom. We bought the paint weeks ago but have yet to actually get the job done.I can't wait to get started. Stonecrop is actually a bluish, greenish gray that will look fabulous with the new quilt we picked. It all feels so lavish. New bedding and new paint, just for us. I can't wait until it's finished! I picked the paint not just for it's flawless match to one of the blues in the quilt but because the paint was a zero-VOC paint. And what, you ask, is a zero-VOC paint? Read on!

According to Renee Loux, author of Easy Green Living, Volatile Organic Compounds or VOC's are a bunch of gases emitted by a variety of chemical liquids and solids, paint being one of the biggies. VOC's evaporate into the air as the paint dries and are particularly harmful to lungs and atmosphere. That icky "paint" smell you try desperately to air out of the room? Those are the VOC's. These nasty compounds are irritating to eyes, lungs and throats and can damage the liver, kidneys and central nervous systems. Some VOC's are known to cause cancer. VOC's are a major contributor to air pollution and a key component in smog. They pollute the water and the soil and can have serious effects on wildlife and plants.

Scared yet? You should be. Even scarier is that there are no standards for controlling the use of VOC's outside of industrial settings. It is up to us, as consumers to make choices that will reduce or eliminate our VOC exposure. Here are some of Loux's suggestions:
  • Houseplants! Houseplants have the ability to absorp VOCs.
  • Chose eco- and lung-friendly plant based products, espeically all purpose cleaners, stain removers, and heavy duty cleaners. Or better yet, just make your own!
  • Avoid aerosol products across the board. Period. Bu-bye hairspray.
  • Chose natural cosmetics and personal care products.
  • Chose low-VOC or zero-VOC paints and stains.
  • Opt out using particleboard and pressed wood as they contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogenic VOC.
  • Chose cloth or PVC plastic shower curtains.
  • Use less plastic all around.
  • Chose natural or organic mattresses, sheets and bedding.
  • Get rid of synthetic carpeting. Opt for natural fibers or sustainably harvested hardwoods.
How will you lower your exposure to VOC's?? Leave a comment and let me know. I'll post some before and after pics when the job is done.

1 comment:

  1. Stephanie! You and I are leading parallel lives! I just went to a lecture on Sunday about sustainable furniture, and one thing we talked about was choosing low-VOC finishes. Since I am a poor grad student, I'm not buying any new furniture any time soon, but I am going to refinish some stuff for my back porch, and I am using low-VOC stain! So, there you go. And! I ordered my canning books yesterday from our local bookstore! I'll let you know how that goes! :) xoxoxoxo