There are many shades of green, but the green finishes I would like to talk about today are environmentally preferable finishes for your home or office.

Here is a bullet list to remember:
  • FSC certified wood (Forest Stewardship Council Wood- Google it for more info)
  • Reclaimed or refinished materials (ever seen barn wood flooring, or frosted glass pebbles for yard paths? Beautiful!)
  • Rapidly renewable materials (bamboo, cork, wool)
  • Recycled content materials (yummy glass tiles and floor tile are now available)
  • Exposed concrete (many shades of stains available- but not recommended by some health gurus)
These are the five basics to look for and then do your research. "Green building" has pros and cons. Yes the stone is durable and long lasting, but it came from Italy. Yes the carpet is recycled content, but it has been shipped from Georgia (i.e. - not local). Do not get stuck in an "all or nothing" point of view on "green", there is no such thing. Do the best you can and that is all you can do. It is better than doing nothing.

What can I do right away you might ask? Here are some fun and practical tips from the Build it Green check list for remodeling a home. (
  1. Use low or zero VOC paints. (Volatile Organic Compounds in paints are a major class of indoor air pollutants)
  2. Low VOC wood finishes
  3. Low VOC caulks and adhesives.
  4. Use recycled content paint
  5. Use environmentally preferable materials (see list above) on all interior finishes
  6. Reduced formaldehyde cabinets and other interior finishes. (Remember that frog preservative from High School dissection classes, yuck)
  7. TEST your home for formaldehyde after installation of interior finishes. For test kits and more information go to ; This is the site for the California Air Resources Board.
  8. One fun one before we go. Build in a shoe cubby into the wall of your entry. Provide a bench for family and guests to remove shoes. Up to two-thirds of dust and particulates in houses is tracked in on shoes!!! Soil, pesticides, abrasive sand, mold, road grime, and bacteria. Once these particulates are inside the home it is difficult to get rid of them.
On a side note. I just saw some fantastic colors of a very "green" flooring called "Marmoleum" It is a greened recreation of linoleum from the 50's. VERY natural. Ingredients: linseed oil (pressed from flax seed), pine rosins, wood flour, ecologically friendly pigments for the fun colors, and the backing is jute fiber and cork. They even have a "click" in place feature. It is so cool. "Asthma and Allergy friendly" check out for more info.

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