Spending Green vs. Living Green

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If spring fever has hit you and you’re already thinking about all of the projects you want to do to improve your home this spring, then you’re probably also thinking about what kind of budget you have to work with. It’s hard to stick to a budget as you flip t

hrough beautifully colored, shiny pages of home improvement and home decorating magazines, or as you do tons of online searches that bring back sometimes expensive results, but it is possible to complete a home improvement project and also stay within a budget while also making sure you’re protecting the environment as well.

Always choosing the “green” way of doing things should always be a motivating factor whenever you are getting ready to do a project, especially when it comes to your home. Many people assume that just because most “green” focused home improvement projects are expensive that they’ll never be able to afford doing them to their own house, and that they’re only a reality for people on HGTV. The truth is though, as the world becomes more aware of being eco-friendly, costs are coming down for those who decide to make “green” choices.

For example, if you have decided that you want to re-paint your bathroom, and it’s smaller in size, then you do have the option of buying a paint that has almost no volatile organic compounds, commonly referred to as “VOCs”. These compounds are what makes paint have that “freshly painted” scent, sort of like the way a car as a “new car smell”. The

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big difference is though that you’ll never find an air freshener called “New Paint”, because although it doesn’t smell bad, it doesn’t smell good and worse, these compounds are terrible for the environment and for our health. Once you do a bit of research and discover exactly what these compounds can do to the environment and yourself, you’ll be determined to find a paint without them.

Unfortunately, many home improvement stores you visit will probably have a paint clerk that smirks at you and points you in the direction of the very tiny eco-friendly products space of the store. You’ll probably be dis-heartened to find that the price on these products is ridiculous, but just keep in mind what your purpose and goal is and pay the price. However, you’ll probably be even more sad to find out that although these paints don’t have a strong VOC smell, they probably don’t do much for coverage. Most of the time, after these paints have dried, they easily come off with just the scratch of a fingernail or if something even lightly hits the wall. This is really inconvenient if you have children or pets.

Some that have had this unfortunate experience end up glazing the paint, which means using a product that is full of VOCs. However, there is an option. Although the coverage of paints that contain no VOCs and that are eco-friendly is virtually non-existent, you can still do your part in saving the environment by finding products like low VOC paint. Benjamin Moore makes a great paint, Benajamin Moore’s Aura Paint. Even if you choose a dark color, you’ll be happy to find that although it does contain a small bit of VOCs, it barely has an odor and does provide great coverage.

Essentially, although it’s sometimes impossible to find a product that’s completely eco-friendly and also wallet friendly, there is a middle road that will suit both needs. The grass may be greener on the other side, but it’s also pretty green on the way there too.


M. M. Mayer blogs for the Bricklaying Courses blog. Her nonprofit blog she uses to share useful resources to help people become a bricklayer.

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