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Biodegradable, quality, accessible to all budgets: ecological paints have everything to seduce. But how do you choose from the plethoric range of "green" products? The decorator Elise Orrier, specialist in natural paints, gives us her wise advice. > i> Interview by Gilles Wallon What is an "ecological" painting? Ecological paints are made with natural, mineral or organic materials. Unlike glycerophthalic (oil) paints, it does not present toxic products, which are called volatile organic compounds, responsible in particular for bad odors. In ecological paints, we first find natural binders, derived from traditional techniques. These are binders based on vegetable oils, wax, casein, or resin. The colors come from natural pigments. Which pigments are either of mineral origin (copper oxide gives blue or green), or of vegetable origin (tea extract, for example). In addition, they are not diluted with toxic solvents. They are thus sometimes replaced by citrus distilla. In its manufacture, an ecological paint therefore does not produce toxic waste. At the time of its application, natural paint gives off little or no toxic fumes. Ideal for a baby's room! Another advantage: ecological paints age better and age naturally over the years. Question price, the ecological paint costs more to buy but it covers more surface than ordinary paints. Do natural paints have drawbacks? As with ordinary paints, you have the choice between gloss, matt and satin. But the choice of colors is a little more limited. Another disadvantage: the drying time is a little longer because the product is without chemical accelerator. Some ecological paints are ready to use, others are "to be made": we buy already mixed products in sachets and just add water and coloring. How to find your way in the offer of ecological paints? The problem is that the expression "green paint" doesn't mean much. It is enough that a painting is a little less polluting than the majority for one to say that it is green. There are manufacturers who claim to be "green" by changing a few minor aspects of their products: heavy metals and hydrocarbons are present in smaller quantities, even eliminated, but there are always glycol ethers. These products are therefore less harmful than the others but remain toxic. To make the right choice, you can rely on two labels: NF Environment and Ecolabel. The first is French and the second European. Then look at the composition of the painting. Ecological paints must write all the ingredients on the packaging. Also check the toxicity logos (flammable, irritant, corrosive, etc.): the presence of one or two of them is not alarming. On the other hand, if you count five, you can be sure that it is not an ecological painting! Last tip: prefer eco-housing stores to very large brands. > Find out more: www.peinturesnaturelles.fr