Ditch the VOCs
Envirodec tells PQ how using VOC-free products benefits not only the environment but also the planet’s inhabitants.
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Published: 12 August 2014
This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod
All construction activity has an impact on the environment, but impending legislation has prompted the industry to recognise its role in causing environmental damage – and also in helping to restore the balance. The government introduced amendments to the VOC legislation in 2010 and again in 2012, along with other initiatives related to green building practices. As a result, there’s now a growing trend for local authorities, planners, developers and construction professionals to take their environmental responsibilities more seriously and to build in a more sustainable way.
Change is slowly taking place, and many of us are choosing environmentally conscious options over conventional products for our painting and decorating projects. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in many mainstream paints and furnishings are air pollutants that can have detrimental effects on human health; they contribute to respiratory illnesses and some are mutagenic or toxic to reproduction and harmful to the unborn. They also have a negative impact on the environment: they leach into crops and vegetation, damage materials and reduce visibility when they react with nitrogen oxides to form ground-level ozone.
Using VOC-free products benefits not only the environment but also the planet’s inhabitants. Fumes and other airborne particles from paints reduce indoor air quality, and have been linked to both short-term and long-term health problems – including everything from asthma and allergies to memory loss, dizziness, fatigue and depression. The young, elderly and infirm and allergy sufferers are most at risk – especially when the air inside is more polluted than it is outside.
Matthew Robson started out in the painting and decorating industry over 15 years ago, after getting careers advice and deciding it would be his ideal vocation. From 2008 he started to receive repeated requests for kinder products for children’s bedrooms and nurseries; ‘I started to question how I was working and the products I was using’, he told PQ. ‘I actually started to feel disappointed that I wasn’t able to leave the finished job with the satisfaction of knowing I’d used the best products I could.’ As a solution, Matthew launched Envirodec, a conscious service provider that uses as many traditional, carbon-neutral and natural products as possible. ‘I hoped that, as we came out of the recession, people would want to start spending on redecorating’, he said. ‘Envirodec and skilled tradesmen like me would let those people take an ethical approach.’
The next step for Matthew was when a builder friend and his wife were due to have a baby, and insisted that no harmful products were to be used in their home. ‘It led to painstaking research’, Matthew remembers. ‘I ordered and tested countless products to make sure they were not only eco-friendly, but that they also retained the high quality of the more harmful paints.’
Through his investigations, Matthew discovered that traditional decorating methods used natural inks and food dyes; it was only after the industry became commercialised that the more harmful chemicals were introduced. He decided to go back to basics and offer his clients something that was good for them and that made him feel good about what he was doing. ‘In an industry that was already tainted with bad workmanship and timekeeping, I wanted to clean things up’, he explains. ‘I’d like to take eco decoration into housing associations and council buildings, where the impact on those less fortunate would be really satisfying work.’
While many still think that more sustainable options have a far higher price tag, Matthew’s calculations suggest that the use of more environmentally-friendly paints would only bump your final bill up by around 7-10%.
Envirodec’s based in Bristol but covers the whole of the UK, and the service is available to anyone who wants to avoid having toxic and VOC-laden products in the home. Customers get a more natural and traditional painting and decorating service, that puts the wellbeing of the building’s inhabitants – and the planet – at the centre of its operations.
Matthew said, ‘We take great delight in our clients’ reactions when they enter beautifully decorated rooms that are clean and healthy, and that have not – and will not – damage them or the environment. We have the skills, interest and knowledge to work with builders, architects, project managers or the building owner directly, on any project’.
The eco-friendly products that are now available offer a better finish and a wider range of options than ever before. The paints can be colour matched and can normally be applied in exactly the same way as conventional alternatives, to provide similar coverage in all the same places and in all the same finishes.
Envirodec is a member of the Painting and Decorating Association and Eco Decorators Association. It offers all the skills and services you would expect from a professional decorating company, meeting applicable regulations while also helping to make sure your project has the best impact on its users and the environment.