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« Spotlight on Brooke McGuyer Interiors | Main | Defining Spaces »

What does going green (low VOC) mean?

Trying to go green sounds good, but diving into the technical jargon and milling through companies marketing claims can be overwhelming! I am reminded of when the low fat craze began and the constant struggle to lose a pound or two. I pored over the marketing claims of low fat foods in the grocery store, spending way more than the hour I had allotted to do my weekly shopping. I went for foods with the lowest possible fat content trying to stick to the rule of thumb - nothing over 30% fat calorie ratio. 

From the Wild Mountain

Loaded with my arsenal of foods and complete with my favorite healthy choice cookies—I was ready to lose weight!! Of course, later many of these products were exposed as having twice the amount of sugars and carbs in them and more preservatives and chemicals in each bite that the military has in their arsenal.



I have felt the same way going through the volatile organic compound (VOC) ratios in paint products that claim to be green with one exception—this time I had to pull out my readers to read the fine print. The VOC’s are the harmful emissions that paint, glues, stains, fabrics, furniture, cleaners and other things in your home emit. VOC levels are typically expressed in grams per liter or g/l.   Up until 1999, the content in paints was pushing 1000 g/l but federal regulations have since set the VOC content limit in paint at 250 grams per liter.

Green Seal, the developer of environmental standards, certifies interior paints as low-VOC if the content is below 50 g/l for flat coat or 150 g/l for non-flat coat. Zero-VOC paints are paints that have a VOC content of 5 g/l or less. Most major paint companies now produce low VOC paint. If you are really interested in the guidelines make sure the pigments put in the paint are low VOC as well.

Watch out!!  Many companies will use low odor in their marketing to portray that their products are meeting the green standards when they are not. Basic rule of thumb—products that smell more have higher VOC’s.


Slow Fashioned

The new green movement is highlighting the fact that the older, more natural, ways of doing things are not only healthier for us physically but also healthier for a longer living planet. Green isn’t only considering producing new products with low VOC’s, but also reusing materials that we have to save the environment and reduce the amount of material we send to landfills.

Some ways are easy and can even help save on your decorating budget. Recycle! Recycle! Recycle! Look around your home at what you have. Do you have furniture, light fixtures, hardware, mirrors, kitchen cabinets or built-ins with great lines that just may need a face lift? With specialty paint treatments as shown above, these can be transformed at a fraction of the cost of purchasing new items.

During a past visit to Tuscany I noticed many restaurants served only fresh, preservative free foods and wines.  The food was so beautifully presented and delicious that I found myself indulging in 3 course breakfasts and 5 course lunches and dinners complete with wine and dessert.  I was amazed that I didn’t gain a single pound! I became a believer that chemicals and preservatives which so much of the food we consume in the states contain, can’t be broken down which not only prevents our bodies from metabolizing the food as efficiently, but also puts a strain on our organs when doing so. 

Food analogies help me relate to so many things-haha. Chemicals that surround us in any fashion, if they can't break down naturally, are unhealthy to our bodies and to our earth. Well, after all of my research, I find myself definitely on the road to a greener way of life! Recycle, reuse and refurbish what I have when possible, pay close attention to labels and buy lower VOC paint when it makes sense financially and aesthetically.


Just In at the Segreto Boutique!

Druzy and beaded earrings.

 Unique necklaces.

Get ready for parties at the ranch or a Father's day celebration with these Deer emblazoned styrofoam cups and cocktail napkins and the gorgeous antler chargers.

New work by Darlene Wall written up as one of Texas best landscape artists. If you would like more info about any of these items come visit us at 1414 Antoine or email a great week!!!  xo  Leslie

 To purchase “Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors” on our website, click here or to purchase through Amazon, click here.

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Reader Comments (8)

The Italians know how to eat: grow it, fish for it, eat what is seasonal and fresh. The low-fat movement in this country is responsible, in my opinion and those more leaned than I, for the obesity epidemic. Fat is what gives food flavor. Remove it and there is no taste, so food companies replaced it with salt and sugar, especially high-fructose corn syrup. I avoid processed food. Read Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" for a real education on the subject. As for recycling, I am in total agreement with you. Antiques and vintage items are my guiltless pleasure.
Have a great week.
XO, Victoria

June 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria Athens

Hi Leslie,
Very interesting post. I am not surprised that the paint companies will look for a way to get around the regulations- I have become quite cynical where any big corporations are concerned; it is always about the bottom line.

I agree with you and Victoria about the importance of fresh food and the difference it makes in how our body metabolizes it. My husband is Italian and grew up in Italy coming to the states at 17 and he still remarks upon the difference in the food. Most Europeans, if possible, will buy just enough for a day or two. Of course, things are changing everywhere as man "progresses" -ha.

And yes, antiques are the best way, hands down, to recycle- why buy cheap new when you can own a quality antique? That always astounds me.

Great food (no pun intended) for thought, Leslie!

June 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMimi

Love those lamps...I am looking for similar pieces to transform into lamps!...and you are so right about the preservatives...looks like you had a great time in Tuscany!

The sink and mirror look amazing! A lot of people don't realize that going green does not mean you have to give up style. Thanks for sharing!

June 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHector

The sink and mirror look amazing! A lot of people don't realize that going green does not mean you have to give up style. Thanks for sharing!

June 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHector is new to the "green" cleaning industry. None of their products contain VOC's (including the glass cleaner and fragrances)or other harsh chemicals. Plus they show on their web site lab studies how BioWorx compares to other cleaning products in soap scum and scale removal. They do quite well in each key cleaning category.

December 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill S

On a cleaning chemical note and VOC's, there is a new ecofriendly cleaning product manufacturer called None of their products contain VOC's including VOC free fragrances. They also show on their website how their products perform against the leading household cleaners. They have green cleaners outperforming the best green and non-green cleaners in streak free glass cleaner, soap scum and scale remover

December 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill S

I ts a very nice blog.

December 12, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermythicpaint1

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