Have you ever wondered how paint went through decades of primarily consisting of oil-bases then suddenly switched to water-bases? We wondered what the core reason behind this change was. There is an abundance of pros and cons between the two paints, but there was one main factor that forced the change, environmental impact.
Paint is an unusual suspect for environmental impact. Most look at obvious contributors such as: single use plastics, trash, etc. Not discounting their harmful impact, but many of the main deteriorates of environmental health are products that are not usually highlighted. Oil-based paint (solvent-based) during the drying phase reacts with oxygen and evaporates, releasing VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds). These compounds produce a very strong odor and a harmful impact on to the environment. Water-based paints take longer to dry but do not emit toxic emissions or strong odors into the air. Due to these toxic emissions, government and other environmental regulations groups enforced extensive guidelines on solvent-based paints pushing companies to use water-based paints instead.
Solvent-based paint and solvent-based PU coating are identically impactful to the environment, but the difference between the two lies in the lack of government regulation on coatings. Every year millions of yards of fabric are coated with solvent-based coatings producing toxic emissions that contribute to Earth’s depleting ozone layer. Common products that use solvent-based coatings are backpacks, luggage, hammocks, tents, and more. Products that utilize toxic coatings are everywhere and are not highlighted in the same way as plastic bottles and straws are.
Our goal is to bring this problem to the forefront. We hope governing bodies address solvent-based coatings with the same ferocity as oil-based paints. We deserve to have the knowledge of what is harming our environment. We deserve to know how our products are actually affecting the environment. Next time before buying a backpack, take a look in the specs/features and see what they use for fabric coatings. If it says polyurethane coating, that is the harmful material that is contributing to global warming. Companies will market themselves as eco-friendly, sustainable packs, but if you take a deeper look, they will be using solvent-based coatings. So, are they really eco-friendly/sustainable or are hiding the truth? The choice is yours if you want to continue down an unsustainable path or choose to take a stand.