Our Commitment to Eco-Friendly Painting
The past decade has seen a growing awareness and trend toward living an eco-friendly lifestyle and ‘going green’. While the rise in environmentalism really started to gain momentum back in the 1970s with government regulations and community movements, we have now come to a point where almost everyone is taking steps to lessen their ecological footprint.
We’re now conserving water & electricity, lessening our reliance on harmful chemicals, and generally leading our day-to-day lives with the environment always in the back of our minds. Businesses everywhere are also following suit, with products and services now being designed and delivered not only with their features, benefits, cost, and quality in mind, but also their eco-friendliness.
In the painting industry, it’s becoming commonplace to see painting contractors operating under the ‘green painting,’ ‘eco-friendly‘ painting, and ‘eco painting’ philosophy. Paint manufacturers are now producing safe, low-to-zero VOC (volatile organic compound) products as the rule rather than the exception, and even recycling and disposing paint is now much more environmentally friendly.
However, there is more to being a true eco-friendly painting company than just the type of paint that’s used on the job, and for a contractor to truly reduce their environmental footprint, they have to consider many more factors including:
- Water usage when washing paint brushes, rollers and other tools.
- Responsible use and disposal of construction materials such as plastic sheeting and sundries.
- Transportation to and from the job site.
- Environmentally friendly office procedures from paper reduction to more efficient lighting & heating.
Here at Ecopainting, we’re proud to say that we were the first painting contractor in Toronto to promote and practice true eco-friendly painting in every aspect of what we do. Twelve years ago we decided that being environmentally responsible would be our mandate, and it remains our core philosophy to this day.
Not only do we exclusively use zero and very low VOC paints for all of our jobs, we also strictly follow environmentally friendly painting processes with the kinds of materials we use, how we clean up, and even the vehicles we drive.
We’re also happy to have an environmental scientist as a member of our painting team to help keep us accountable to environmental standards and ensure that we are always researching and innovating new and better ways to be a true eco-friendly painting company.
What Does it Take to Be An Eco-Friendly Painting Company?
Eco-friendly painting is all about combining both painting materials and day-to-day processes with the environment in mind. However, just using low VOC paints, or properly disposing & recycling used materials is only part of a much bigger picture.
For a painting contractor to be called “eco-friendly”, they must adopt an environmental philosophy across every aspect of the company. And this is what that involves:
Using Low or Zero VOC Paints
When you open a can of conventional paint you will find a creamy blend of plasticizers, adhesives, hardeners, pigments, drying accelerators, solvents, and more. Many of these components contain harmful chemicals including acetone, formaldehyde, and ammonia, which are proven to be harmful to the environment and are also known to be neurotoxins and cancer-causing carcinogens.
When conventional paint is applied & dries, the solvents produce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that vapourize in the air. That familiar smell of fresh paint is actually toxic, and is known to harm both the environment and our health.
From an environmental point of view, VOCs react with sunlight and pollution, contributing to smog and ozone damage. In terms of health, these paint fumes can cause eye, throat, & skin irritation as well as headaches, nausea, and breathing problems.
Fortunately, the overall trend in the painting world is moving toward eliminating these harmful paints and embracing low-to-zero VOC paint options as a healthier and more environmentally friendly alternative. For example, water based paints have mostly replaced high VOC oil-based paints, significantly cutting down on the amount of VOCs.
Advances in production have also reduced the amount of VOCs in the solvents, pigments, and binders that make up the paint. And aside from the health and environmental benefits, modern zero VOC paints have improved coverage, hiding and can even be quite durable with colour retention qualities.
Following Eco-Friendly Processes
Using environmentally responsible paint, materials, and equipment is only part of the overall philosophy of an eco-friendly painting company. If these are not used in the right manner, any environmental benefit they once had will go to waste.
To ensure that this doesn’t happen and that a painter is operating with the smallest ecological footprint possible, there must be eco-friendly processes in place for every aspect of the business.
What kind of processes should an eco-friendly painting company follow? For an example, this is what we do at Ecopainting:
- We follow environmental regulations and best-practices set by the government and the painting industry.
- We order and use the correct amount of paint on the job and nothing more.
- Any leftover paint, we save it for touch-ups, recycle it or donate it to charity to minimize any unneeded waste.
- We use ‘green’ cleaning products to wash off stains and surfaces rather than using harmful solvent primers.
- We dispose of, and recycle all materials including the paint itself following all environmental standards.
- We supply recycling bags to the crew and we recycle all drink, food containers etc.
- We do not use fliers or brochures as marketing materials.
- We even follow eco-friendly practices in the office to conserve energy and reduce paper waste.
Being Accountable and Always Improving
As we learn more about the environment and the impact that our daily lives have on it, there are constant changes to what is considered ‘eco-friendly.’
In the painting industry alone, we have seen changes in the standards for what’s considered to be safe or green paints by discovering what longstanding materials such as solvents and binders are actually harmful to our health and environment. Government regulations and consumer demand have also had an influence on what the right materials and processes are to follow to ensure that we are painting in the most eco-friendly way possible.
To stay at the forefront of environmentally friendly painting, a company must constantly hold itself accountable to current standards, and to constantly research new and innovative ways to reduce its environmental footprint as much as possible.
At Ecopainting, we employ a team of highly skilled painters who are not only committed to doing great work, but also trained to be eco-friendly. We even have one member of our team that does more than paint for us. Alexandra Beek, a painter on our East Toronto (Pickering) crew is a graduate of Toronto’s Centennial College in Environmental Engineering Technology / Environmental Technology and also a volunteer for Citizen Scientist.
As Ecopainting’s resident environmental scientist, Alex is leading our own company environmental committee. Her responsibility is to ensure that we are always held to strict eco-friendly standards in everything we do, and also to help use research new painting tools, materials, techniques, and processes to help keep Ecopainting as the premier eco-friendly painting company in Toronto.