Give me paint, not plastic


One of the country’s leading historians and interior designers, Edward Bulmer, spills the paint on the need for us to be avoiding plastic.

At Edward Bulmer Natural Paints, 2018 was a year of extraordinary growth. We could hardly mix our natural paint quickly enough!

Thanks to David Attenborough and the Blue Planet team, we are all beginning to understand the damage our love affair with plastic is having on our oceans.

Their unequivocal footage bought the plastic issue straight into our living rooms and we were left in no doubt that netting, bottles, bags and wet wipes(to name but a few) are clogging up our oceans and actually killing off sea creatures.

What does this have to do with interior design and paint you may wonder? What I have learnt in over 30 years as an interior designer is that the materials we use to create the desired aesthetic have as much bearing on the ‘look’ we are creating as the design itself. So a wool fabric, leather hide or silk embroidery will look better and last much longer than a cheap, synthetic alternative. ‘Well I cannot afford silk’ I hear you shriek! I understand that cost will inform our choices but soon the cost of ‘cheap’ must be put on the commercial agenda, so we can clean up our oceans, protect their species and even save the planet.

I work in historic buildings, so scholarly research, creativity and a ‘good eye’ are my stock in trade but I also have a responsibility to protect these old buildings and make them safe to live in and visit. About 10 years ago I was approached by a new client to work on a project and they stipulated that I did not bring ANY chemicals into the house that might affect their children and to only use environmentally friendly materials. I was working with stone and marble, wood, brass, wool and leather and I knew where they all came from. Then I started to think about the paint… What is paint made of I asked? I could not find the answer, paint was a ‘cover up’, in more ways than one!

After much digging I found out that most modern paint, like all plastic, is made from the residue of crude oil refining. Bearing in mind my client’s criteria, paint made from petro-chemicals could not actually be eco-friendly and should by no means be called healthy. I turned my back on all plastic paints at this point. Thus began my campaign to develop a range of natural paints that performed as well as modern, plastic paints but were safe and healthy for people, buildings and the planet. From my first 25 historic colours produced in an oil bound distemper we have come a long way – one of consumer education, design inspiration and constant product innovation to arrive at our current range of 100 colours offered in the most breathable paints now on the market.

Plastic has its place in the modern world – to make computers, solar panels or syringes, but why use it to smother the walls and woodwork of our homes? So, a cheer from us for a future when we adopt the appropriate use of plastic and then paint can become paint again, naturally!

Topics: paint

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