Painting your house? Read this first!

Painting the walls is one of the most common ways to change the aesthetic of a room, but unfortunately normal oil-based/acrylic wall paints have many negative impacts on human health and the environment.

I was shopping for paint recently and I noticed that one of the cans said “Warning! This product contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.” I decided to do a little more research about wall paint and its impacts and alternatives.

Harmful ingredients:

I found that wall paint contains VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which are used to help the paint dry and produce the wet paint smell. Exposure to VOCs can cause headaches, asthma, irritated eyes and skin, and many other health effects. VOCs are also involved in the creation of ground level ozone and photochemical smog, both of which are harmful to plants and animals.


·    I decided to buy latex paint which is water based and has much lower VOC levels. Latex paint can’t just be poured down the drain, but it is much safer than oil-based paint which is considered “household hazardous waste” and must be taken to an appropriate disposal facility.

·    Some brands of “natural paint” that can be poured down the drain include: Unearthed, Bioshield, The Real Milk Paint Co., Green Planet Paints, Old Fashioned Milk Paint, Earthborn (UK), Yolo Colorhouse, Anna Sova, Auro USA, AFM Safecoat.            

·    You can also buy recycled low/zero VOC paint at

  • the ReStore by Austin Habitat for Humanity. Address: 500 W Ben White Blvd. Phone: (512) 478-2165
  • “ReBlend” paint is FREE at Austin Recycle and Reuse Dropoff Center. 2514 Business Center Drive Austin, 78744.


  • Natural paint can be poured down the drain or thrown in the trash after fully drying out.
  • Latex paint can be dropped at a recycling center.
  • If stored properly, partially used paint can last for years! Increase the life of leftover paint by doing the following:
  1. Cover the opening with plastic wrap.
  2. Put the lid over the plastic wrap and make sure it is on securely.
  3. Turn the can upside down. The paint creates a seal around the secure lid, keeping it fresh until you need it again.
  • Unused paint can also be donated to art classes, theater programs, girl scout troops, etc.


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