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Deck the Walls with VOC-free Wallpaper

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By Janice Zaltman
January 2, 2012 

Are you ready to refresh a room or two for the New Year? Good news: there’s no need to bring VOC-emitting wallpaper into your home! Here Sierra Club Green Home explains environmentally friendly wallpaper, its benefits, and how to find it.

Many traditional wall covering use Polyvinyl Chloride, commonly known as PVC, to prevent moisture buildup and to make the paper easier to clean. PVC releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are linked to asthma and other health problems. As vinyl wallpaper never decomposes, waste and pollution are big concerns when the wallpaper comes to the end of its lifecycle (about every 10 years).

Environmentally friendly wallpaper is typically made of natural fibers which have zero or low VOCs, and can be recycled or composted. That means better indoor air quality in your home. Many wallpaper manufacturers produce materials that have low VOCs, but the greenest companies are those with sustainable practices throughout their entire process.

Ferm Living Shop, for example, uses only environmentally friendly, water-based pigments in their products. The wallpaper material consists primarily of cellulose and mineral fibers. According to the company’s website, it also recycles the waste generated during manufacturing. The company even uses the “slow boat shipping method” to reduce its carbon footprint, according to founder Christiana Coop.

Found the perfect pattern? Before you stick to it, know that traditional wallpaper paste may contain polymers, chemicals, oils, and fungicides. Look for greener alternatives such as water-based wallpaper paste, water-soluble wallpaper paste, or solvent free wallpaper paste.

Finding products produced locally or regionally has a lot of benefits to the environment, and you may want to start your search by asking local companies for their eco-friendly options. However, the Internet will definitely provide the largest selection.

Wall Paper Collective is a good place to start. This Web site includes environmentally friendly wallpapers from many different designers. You also can see what makes a certain design green, whether because it is free of PVC or because its material comes from sustainably managed forests.

Wake up those tired walls with a fresh look for the New Year. No matter what your style and taste, there is a perfect pattern waiting to transform your walls!

© 2012 SCGH, LLC. 

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