Thursday 31 December 2015

Saving money and the planet, using old world recipes to make furniture paint from scratch

As the earth is warming and governments are scrambling to retain greenhouse gas emissions, I walk around smiling, safe in the knowledge that I am doing my bit - and so can you!

So here is how you can relax and enjoy this year!

Break The Pattern

Waste is one of the biggest culprits killing the earth. And it's not just the value of the product that lands in a rubbish skip, it is the accumulated cost of getting it there from manufacturing to end user. It's the labour, the electricity, the transport, the storage - all added together over the product's lifetime. 

So a product may only cost a few dollars but these accumulated costs can run into hundreds, even thousands. How do you stop this wastage? Keep things in circulation, keep them from being replaced, increase their value.

Recycle vs. Up-cycle

By adding value to a piece that you're recycling, you are up-cycling. Most furniture painters are recyclers. You see scores of pictures on Pinterest and in magazines. Entire TV programs are devoted to recycling. "Here is a quick and easy way to save some money", usually slapping on a coat of paint and adding a cushion. 

There is nothing wrong with this, we all do it. But I would like to think my work permanently saves furniture from the rubbish skip and not just temporarily. And for that, you need to put in a little more effort. It may not be the quick and easy way, but is it really that much more effort? 

Waste Not, Want Not.

Words I so often heard my grandfather utter when I was a child. He lived through the Great Depression and his frugal ways made a huge impression on me. He was a recycler and up-cycler long before these words existed to me and not because he had to, but because he found it challenging. I believe he instilled in me an urge to see the potential in a discarded object, to create something out of nothing and to value simple things.

I used to paint furniture with modern paint. I used to have a storeroom filled with tins from previous jobs. Most of it ended up being thrown away. It was either the wrong colour or the wrong odour. This bothered me to no end. Every time I tossed another tin of hardened paint in the bin, I could hear my grandfather: "Waste not, want not." 

Since I've started making my own paint, things have changed - a lot. These days I have a cupboard with dry materials and a fridge with wet supplies. Leftovers are mixed together to make dark base coats. Or I use them on odd small pieces that need several coats of different colours. I have less than 3% wastage. I'm sure my grandfather would have approved. 

I now also have access to any colour imaginable, not just the ones on the colour chart. I can create colours in the middle of the night on a public holiday and any other time when the store is not open. The transport cost of making paint is almost nothing. So is the storage. And if I only need a small bit in a specific colour, I only make a small bit. I buy my raw materials locally - I don't have them flown in if I can get them down the road. 

So, am I doing enough for the environment? Yes, I am. I don't have sleepless nights about saving the planet. I do what I can and that’s the end of it. Then I relax and enjoy myself. I suggest you do the same. 

May 2016 be the absolute best-est, best-est year of your life!

Happy New Year
Happy Painting!


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