Live Green and Earn Points


Fallin' off the Green Wagon

By Molly Wright |
I wasn't intentionally looking for a reason to ignore my greenie moral code. It just happened, like people on Jerry Springer say about their infidelities. Sigh.

Yep, I did it. Fell off the green wagon yesterday.

I wasn't intentionally looking for a reason to ignore my greenie moral code. It just happened, like people on Jerry Springer say about their infidelities. Sigh.

It all started out innocently enough. We had to paint. We hate to paint. But sometimes you gotta do these things: like cleaning your rugs or changing the spark plugs on your car. Not things you look forward to, but once done, you can't help but say “Ah” and brush hands together briskly.

Anyway, so yesterday, we go to the paint store to consult with Mr. Benjamin Moore. And while we listened intently we discovered some really cool news (news to us at least, since we only paint when little pieces start falling off our walls). They have this line of paint that has zero VOC's. Wonder what these are? Well, according to Consumer Reports Magazine:

“Allowable levels of VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, for paints and products such as aerosol air fresheners, carpets, and furniture have been toughened because VOCs contribute to ozone and smog formation and are linked to respiratory illnesses and memory impairment. And claims by many manufacturers have grown bolder as they market to an audience more familiar with and perhaps more receptive to buying green goods.”

Wow, VOCs are definitely a no-no.

So, we decided to buy the Natura brand since accroding to our paint expert, had none of these nasty things. But just to be fair to all the other paints we moseyed over to other selections to give them equal attention.

And that's when we came across Aura. It practically sat up straighter as we approached and I'm pretty sure it said, "Look at me! I can cover in one coat." "Oooooh," we said back. See to non-painters, the idea of a paint that could possibly cover in one coat is akin to never having another colonoscopy, never standing in line at the DMV, never paying taxes or shoot, never sitting in rush hour traffic. Aura......

So, we ask Mr. Benjamin Moore, who has been great so far, “How does this one-coat wonder stand up to Natura in terms of your green promise?” He says, “It's low in VOCs, not as low as Natura. But it can possiblycover in one coat.”

And that's when we fell from grace: turned our back on Natura and choose our new love, Aura.

Okay, I know I premised this blog with the sensationalistic heading of falling off the wagon; well, falling might be too harsh. Maybe dragging our feet in the wheel ruts as we sit on the back end is more accurate. Buying Aura paint with it's low VOCs when we had the option of buying something with no VOC's - it wasn't a terrible decision - won't get us kicked out of the greenie club for instance. It's just one choice in oodles of environmental ones we make on a daily basis. And for the most part, I think my family does pretty well.

That's life. Sometimes the product that uses less will trump the one that at first glance meets all our eco-conditions.

But over time, we may have less chooses anyway as paint manufacturers continue to limit VOC's dramatically. According to the same Consumer Reports article:

“Federal VOC limits are now set at 250 grams per liter (g/l) for flat paints and 380 g/l for others. Some states and regions have lowered the VOC levels for paints that can be legally sold in their areas. California's standards are stringent: 150 g/l for nonflat finishes and 100 g/l for flat. Even tougher is the 50 g/l level for all finishes set by California's South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), around Los Angeles. “

As I see it, paint companies know the American public will be looking for more product responsibility and the companies that make the earth-friendly changes will benefit monetarily. One day, VOCs like DDT, will be less of a environmental concern and more likely a paragraph in our history books.

Until then, we make choices, and hopefully don't fall off the wagon too many times.

For more information please read the Consumer Reports article.

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  • Elaine F. 5 years ago
    That happens to me sometimes.
  • Viola H. 6 years ago
    Getting ready to paint my this helped!!!! Thanks
  • Bettina B. 6 years ago
    Ok, well, let's not whitewash the gorilla of large mass and volume in the corner: DID it cover in one coat?

  • Juanita Z. 6 years ago
    i love green wagon
  • Tal F. 6 years ago
    You are far too harsh on yourself in defining what the "green wagon" is in the first place! If being on the wagon means always making green choices even when they are significantly less convenient, none of us are on it -- unless we're all biking the 20 miles to work every day, using reusable toilet paper, living by candlelight, and showering in dirty bathwater. Which we certainly do not do! Being on the "green wagon" means making green choices when it's reasonable and not terribly painful to do so.