Great Walls: Eco-Friendly Wall Treatments

For lovely home décor—without polluted indoor air—deck your walls with less-toxic paints.

| July/August 2007

  • All-natural Terramed plasters come in beautiful colors such as Golden Wheat.
  • A new line of ayurvedic colors from AFM Safecoat helps homeowners achieve life balance through color.
  • Nontoxic SafePaint from the Old-Fashioned Milk Paint Company comes in antique colors.
  • Indochine wall coverings made of sisal are part of Innovations’ Innvironment collection.

Whether you choose wallpaper or a fresh coat of paint, the right wall treatment can make a huge impact in your home—often for little cost. Because they’re such large surfaces, walls are agents of change. And some of the hippest, healthiest alternatives to conventional wall finishes—such as clay plaster and milk paint—have been in use for centuries.

Conventional paints emit toxic fumes called VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Some VOCs contain carcinogens and neurotoxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia, toluene and xylene. These substances can cause nose, skin and eye irritation, nausea, respiratory problems, convulsions, nerve damage, and liver and kidney disease. Solvent- and oil-based paints contain a higher level of VOCs (between 32 and 42 percent) compared with latex (or water-based) paints, which contain about 2 to 5 percent, according to The Green Guide.

Natural paints: Paint for the planet

Natural paints are produced from elements found in nature: milk, clay, botanical ingredients, natural oils (such as linseed oil), beeswax, tree resin and mineral pigments. Either water- or oil-based, they’re generally nontoxic, but because they’re made with natural pigments, they usually don’t offer as wide a range of colors as synthetic paints.

“Natural paints require less energy to produce,” says Peter Colburn, a Seattle-based expert on green home products. “Because they’re plant sourced or contain low-impact, mined materials, they have either no or a very low content of petroleum-derived ingredients.”

Favored for porous or unfinished surfaces, VOC-free milk paint is made of casein (milk protein), clay, lime and natural pigments. Most milk paint comes powdered so you can mix it as needed, which reduces waste. (Some premixed varieties contain preservatives.) Whitewash, which only comes in white, is made of lime, water and salt, and it’s great for covering cement, plaster and stucco.



September 12-13, 2019
Seven Springs, Pennsylvania

Fermentation Frenzy! is produced by Fermentation magazine in conjunction with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. This one-and-a-half day event is jam-packed with fun and informative hands-on sessions.


Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

click me