Saturday, June 15, 2013

Green Nursery: Eco-Friendly Painting Tips

Well, being the planner that I am, you know I couldn't wait long (try a week) before getting a jump start on Baby Mila's nursery! Previously it was our "office," but once Avery was born, it kind of became our dumping ground for papers, projects, and mail that needed to be filed or put somewhere else. So I've spent the past few days clearing that room out, moving our "office" furniture to the basement (thank you Brandon) and of course spending many hours on Pinterest planning this nursery.


For me the first step in nursery planning, is to paint the walls. We were lucky with Avery's room because we were happy with the color it was so we didn't need to paint it, but for Mila's room which currently tan (a color that we have for nearly every room in our house) I knew I wanted something different.
Here's a before shot of the room, which used
to be our "home office".

My color choice for Mila's room: grey! Two accent colors that will be going along with it are a dark pink, and a hint of orange...with a little white as well. Here's a sample of the colors together in the way I think best...tissue paper pom poms!

The nursery colors (and a sneak peek at the freshly painted
grey walls).

Okay, okay so enough girly talk about the room design, today I want to share with you how you can GREEN your baby's nursery or any room that you are painting in your home with a few simple tips.

So let's jump right into those tips in this week's video:





No time for the video, here's all my tips in pictures:

Eco-Friendly Painting Tips

1. Choose a Zero-VOC Paint: This is the single most important tip I can reccomend in going green with your baby's nursery. "VOC" stands for Volatile Organic Compounds and they are chemicals used in paint. They are often responsible for that "paint smell" which my nose can smell from a mile away. Aside from strong odors, VOCs can cause eye, ear, and nose irritation, headaches, nausea, loss of coordination, and even damage to the liver, kidney, and nervous system. (read more here).    

With those lovely side effects in mind, I make every effort to get a paint, no matter the brand that clearly states: Zero-VOCs.  The brand I got for this project was "Olympic Icon Self-Priming Semi-Gloss Paint". I got one gallon of it from Lowe's for $25.


Here you can see that it states Zero VOC/Low Odor.
This is not the only brand around with Zero VOCs, most hardware stores carry at least a brand or two that offer a Zero VOC option. Here's a few other options: Benjamin Moore's Aura Paint (low VOCs) that costs $67 a gallon, Sherwin Williams Harmony Paint (zero VOC) that costs $41 a gallon, Behr Premium Plus Paint  (zero VOC) that costs $26 a gallon, AFM Safecoat Paint (zero VOC) costs $46.

Clearly there are enough "green paint" options out there to fit everyone's budget and green preferences.

2.  Circulate the air with fans and windows. Now even though we've taken steps to get a healthier paint without VOCs, there are still a variety of chemicals that still remain such as: titanium dioxide, silicon dioxide, aluminum hydroxide, and pyrithione zinc. Now I'm no chemistry expert, but those are still chemicals that I don't want to be inhaling or getting into my body, so in comes the next green tip: open the windows. Obviously no one is a huge fan of the "paint smell" so it's probably common sense to open a window and get some fresh air during and after the painting process. 

Getting some fresh air...
A fan is another great way to get some air moving in the room you are painting as well. Did you know most paint cans even say, "Provide fresh air ventilation during and after application and drying." 



3. If pregnant, have someone else paint for you: I'm sure this is debatable for some of you, but for me, it's simple, I don't want my body or my baby around the paint or fumes, zero-VOCs or not. According to the American Pregnancy Association, currently there are no studies done on the safety of painting while pregnant, but if you must paint, they recommend some of the tips you will see below, such as: protecting your skin, keeping the area well-ventilated, and limiting the time you spend painting by taking frequent breaks. 

Personally I feel that I take a variety of precautions already to reduce my exposure to toxins and chemicals during pregnancy, so why take the chance with paint? Instead I steer clear of it and have others help me. In this case, Mila's Daddy, Brandon. One tip is that you can get everything ready for those helping you paint, by gathering supplies, taping the windows and doors, or any other prep work so all that your friends or family have to do is the painting. 

Thanks to my hubby, Brandon for offering up his painting
skills (and tallness) for this project. 

4. Wear a mask: This is probably one of the more extreme "green paint tips" I have to offer, since masks are a bit uncomfortable to wear, but if you are extremely sensitive to the fumes or smell of paint, it is an option to consider.  


5. Wear gloves and longer clothing to keep the paint OFF your skin. As much as it may seem like a crazy precaution to wear gloves and long sleeves, it even states on most cans of paint: "Do not get on skin or clothing." Our skin is our largest organ and can absorb nearly everything that gets on it...think about things like nicotine patches, the only way they get into your body is through your skin. And given what's in paint, I don't want that getting absorbed into my skin.


My kind of scary looking "Paint Hazmat" outfit if I really
wanted to go green with my painting.  Lovely, right?

6. Reuse supplies you already have (blankets, brushes, pans, etc.). Obviously one important thing to do in going green is to REUSE what you already have, and paint supplies are no exception. For several years, every time I would paint, I would buy all new brushes, trays, and drop-cloths. But now that I've greened up my act, I try to reuse as much as I can for each painting project. Obviously we need new rollers or brushes from time to time, but when it comes to other painting supplies (roller brush handles, painting trays, plastic drop cloths, etc.) they get used, and reused a lot at our house. 

Here's a paint tray that has seen it's fair share of painting
projects.

7. When buying paint, only get as much as you need.  Keep in mind that according to "paint experts", one gallon covers over 400 sq. feet so buy your paint accordingly. The less you buy, the less you have leftover to dispose of or have lying around your house.

One gallon of this grey paint was about how much
we needed for this job. 

8. Recycle old paint at your local Hazardous Waste Facility. Again, not new info here, most people know NOT to throw their old paint out with their trash, instead you can take it to your local Hazardous Waste Drop Off. In fact, my can of paint even recommends: "Contact your local environmental regulatory agency for guidance on disposal of unused product. Do not pour down drain or storm sewer."

Here I am taking a load of old paint
to our local Hazardous Waste Facility
a few years ago.

9.  Utilize an indoor plant to help filter the air. Who knew that cool little green plants could do so much good? NASA, yes, NASA, did a study on the ability of indoor plants to help purify the air and they found a variety of plants were able to purify the air to some degree during their normal photosynthesis process, read more here.  Some indoor plants had more powerful purifying properties than others, the top ten included: Arcea Palm, Lady Palm, Bamboo Palm,  Rubber Plant, Dracaena (Janet Craig), Phileodendron, Dwarf Date Palm, Ficus Alli, Boston Fern, and Peace Lily (see pictures and more info of all ten here).

Bamboo plants are some of my favorites, as you'll see below, but I'd love to try out some of the other recommended plants (I can see a future video tip coming about this soon!).  Until then, I'll  be keeping this one in Mila's room to keep the air clean and get any leftover toxins from the painting process out of the air.

My favorite type of indoor plant,
bamboo.

Here's what the room looks like once it's been painted...




Clearly it's needing a bit of pink, but that will come soon enough!

So there you have it, my favorite "eco-friendly" painting tips. Do you have anything else to add to the list? Or any other eco-friendly paint brand that you like to use? Share below.

See you next time for the next step in getting this nursery "green" and ready for Baby Mila!


Recently this post was linked up to "Tuesday Baby Link Up" over at the blog Growing Slower, as well as a number of other blogs that are listed in the link above. So hop on over and check out some other fun baby posts!

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