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The Freshaire Choice: Home Depot's New, Green Paint

Freshaire_2 I have to admit, I was very skeptical when I first heard about Home Depot's new, green paint, The Freshaire Choice.  I associate large corporations like this, who are not generally known for being environmentally or socially responsible, with a concern for their bottom line, not the earth.  Whether or not this is true, Home Depot has made an impressive eco-friendly step with this line of paint.

Green Elements:
The base paint and the pigments are free of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) which pollute your interior air as you paint and for years after.  This is an impressive feat in the large-scale paint industry. For example, Benjamin Moore only offers low VOC products, and from what I have heard, doesn't plan to go to no VOCs anytime soon (although they might want to reconsider that now).  Freshaire has been GreenGuard certified, also. 

And Home Depot didn't stop there, they went above and beyond by making a 100% recycled paint can and using soy-based inks for the paint can labels.  These little details stand for a lot in my mind.  Home Depot could have stopped at making a VOC free paint and been successful in the green market, but they chose additional green features, which they may not even see a profitable return on.  That's putting the environment first. 

Price Point:
The price point on this paint is also very attractive.  At $34-$39/gallon, this paint is priced way below most smaller, environmental paint companies like Anna Sova ($60 + shipping from Texas).   But, it's also priced about $15 below Benjamin Moore's Aura line (Low VOC). 

Paint Performance:
Now, how does the paint perform?  Again, I was skeptical because I think Home Depot's regular paint line Behr, is a pretty unimpressive product.  But, Freshaire, is wonderful to work with.  It covers incredibly well, has a very unobtrusive odor and the pigment is beautiful.  There are currently 65 colors to choose from.  With this as an affordable, green option within 20 miles of most people, there is really no excuse for not using eco-friendy paint. 

At the same time, this paint is a great step, but it doesn't change what Home Depot has done and continues to do to many small towns and business owners and the impact their entire organization has on the environment.  You have to look at the big picture and decide what you think the environmental and social costs and benefits are.  All I can tell you is that Freshaire is an environmentally friendly choice and it's great to work with.  The rest, you'll have to decide for yourself!


What a great blog! So informative! I'm getting a lot of tips which I can put to use. Thanks so much for linking to Design^Sprout.
All the Best,

My pleasure Veronica, we like to link to blogs that we're inspired by and yours is one! Make sure to keep in touch ...

Thats great, I wish I would have known this before spending $60 per gallon of that Benjamin Moore Aurura low VOC paint. It's a great paint, but pretty expensive if you ask me and it is supposed to cover in one coat, which is not entirely true, but covers better than most.

This is a good step for Home Depot and hopefully will help get no-VOC paint in more houses. Personally, I just painted the entire interior of the house we just bought with Pittsburgh Paint's Pure Performance. They sell it at our local hardware store and it is No-VOC, high-performance paint that cost me $28/gallon. This was the best option for us because we could support a local store while still getting a good quality, environmentally friendly paint for a very affordable price.

Thanks for sharing. That sounds like a great option. I have not seen that anywhere in my area yet (NH), but I will check that out.

My question is did they design new colorants for the product as well? The colorants also have VOCs as well. If they are using the same colorant as regular paints, you are barely better off. Personally, Benjamin Moore is a dead brand in the local market. Personally, I like Pratt and Lambert Porcelain(low VOC) that covers well and costs around $32 to $34 per gallon and covers much better than the Aura at a lot cheaper price.

Freshaire has its own tinting system, NO VOC powdered pigment. Separate packets of pigment for each color are supplied and added at the store after the color is chosen by the customer. These are water soluble cellulose packets and the entire packet is dropped into the paint and dissolves when the painit is shook

Hi Richard,

Yes, the colorants are free of VOCs as well. That's one of the big points that they are advertising. I think this is where a lot of other brands are striking out. Thanks, Sarah.

Thank you for that detailed description, Fred. I was wondering what the little baggies that hold the pigment were made of. Now, I know!

I am pregnant. My husband and I have been working on home improvements and planned on painting a couple rooms - and now we have an additional room (for the baby) to paint! Everything that I've read is that pregnant women should not paint. Is Freshaire a safe paint that even I could apply while pregnant?? (My husband will be THRILLED if the answer is yes!!)

Hi Amy,

All the sources that I have seen say that "yes" it is okay. I do not want to be the one to tell you 100% that it is okay, but if you look into it on google, you will see that the general consensus is that NO VOC paint is fine for pregnant women. Here is one quote from an article on a green health site, "Additionally, pregnant women should never paint, except if using no-VOC paints, since paint fumes can actually pass through the placenta and harm the fetus."
The important thing to remember is that some paints that claim to be No VOC may still have VOC's in the colorant that is added, but Home Depot's Freshaire does not.

Thanks Sarah - I'll ask my doctor to be sure, but I appreciate you giving me this information! I guess that even if the painting is completed by my husband, this still sounds like the best option for the new baby (before and after it's born!).

There is no such thing as "no" VOC paints. All paints release some amount of VOC into the atmosphere...though the amount may be small.
At vary low levels the EPA allows a "no" VOC designation

Then they really shouldn't advertise it that way, but it's really the same as all sorts of labels our government allows to be mis-leading such as "natural", "organic" and "free-range" foods which many times are not really that at all. Still, I think the point is that the paint is the best that you are going to get as far as VOCs. Other than that, it's up to us to press our government to require more truthful labeling. As always, you have to be your own advocate and search out the information that is important to you. Thank you for sharing this fact.

As great as this product might be (and I've never heard anything good about paint purchased at home depot) you can only get it in 60-65 colors so that's pretty unimpressive. If you want to get the color you want (most offer thousands of colors), you'll still likely have to go to a different type of paint. Also, a dry colorant system is a pretty poor way to make a color. The person making the paint is going to have to make sure he or she gets every last bit of powder out of that bag or else the color isn't going to be accurate. This shows that home depot really is only willing to go so far before it starts thinking of its profit again. Many companies out there now have zero VOC tinting systems. The new Benjamin Moore system is zero VOC, and a lot of other companies are doing this too. If you truly want a green product that performs well and doesn't limit you or make you compromise on what you want for your home, you should look elsewhere.

I included the fact that there are only 65 colors, but they offer a nice color palette and if it becomes popular, they will likely add more in the near future. I also said that I have never been impressed with Home Depot's paint, but Freshaire does perform very well. I just primed and painted my entire living room with it. As far as I know, Aura is the best eco-line that Benjamin Moore has and it is only LOW VOC. My Benjamin Moore distributor says that she does not think they will be going No VOC anytime soon. While I do like the performance of Aura a bit better, it is priced much higher ($53/gallon vs. $35) and many people will not use eco-paint if they have to pay that much more. Also, many people only have large chains like Home Depot as an option. Also, Freshaire is not made by dumping the powder out of a packet; the entire packet (made of cellulose) is placed into the paint and it dissolves, so there is no fear of not getting all the powder out. This is a good option for many people looking to do what they can to be green within their budget and local area. If you can afford to do more and don't mind paying shipping, check out my article on Anna Sova, an extremely green paint with over 500 beautiful colors, but it's gonna cost you and you'll have to wait for it to become available. Otherwise, check out your other local options.

Actually, Benjamin Moore has been at zero VOC for years with their ECO Spec product. Probably over 10 years now.

Aura by Benjamin Moore is not zero VOC as stated on their site: "Benjamin Moore recently introduced AURA low VOC, low odor premium interior paint". Since they advertise Aura as their most healthy and environmental paint, I do not think that Eco-spec is any better than this. Perhaps when it came out years ago, it passed as zero VOC, but since then the requirements have clearly changed and by current standards, it does not qualify as zero VOC.

No one here said Aura was zero VOC. I don't want to get into an argument over this, but Eco Spec is zero VOC and qualifies as such per all regulations.

Just because they don't advertise it a lot doesn't mean its not true. And Aura is more sold as an awesome paint. I've never seen anything where they say its their best and most environmentally friendly paint. It just happens to be lower VOC than most. Even if you go on the website the "Eco Friendly statement" is practically the last thing they point out, so it can't be that important.

While I am glad you spoke on behalf of your experience about Home Depot's "no VOC" paint option, I believe you need to delve a little further into the business before assuming what we are doing/ not doing to and for the environment. As a district leader for a group of associates from 7 stores who are exploring and implementing new environmentally responsible practices for our stores, employees and our customers, I take offense to your stereotypical description of big corporations and their practices in regards to the environment. We started the above mentioned group in response to efforts in other stores/districts, as well as the company's nationwide rollout of Eco-Friendly products and recycle programs for paper, plastics, glass, aluminum, nursery pots, shrink-wrap , etc. In addition, many of the stores are now choosing to buy recycled office products (paper, pens, etc). So, please,...look before you speak!

Well, I am very glad that the group of you are working towards making the company more green because it is very important and it certainly needs that.

Considering Home Depot's actual track record, I'm going to say that I was actually being pretty generous with my "stereotypical description". You are asking me to look before I speak- How about looking at the $1.3 million penalty that Home Depot was forced to pay for environmental violations related to storm water polluting in more than 30 sites nationwide! Four of these were in my state of NH.

Not only this, on a customer level it has been very difficult to see the work that you and your associates are doing, unfortunately. I had not spoken to one worker at Home Depot (and I have spoken to many in the past years) who could give me any sort of insight into the eco-friendliness of the company or their products until this paint came out. And I ask questions about this topic at Home Depot quite often. For instance, I was looking for 100% recycled plastic lumber because the composite product is not as eco-friendly or as durable (many people do not know this, but it would be great to see a company like Home Depot educate themselves and their workers about facts such as these). I talked to three people and no one seemed to be educated about this product. The last, and supposedly most knowledgeable person, tried to sell me on their special order plastic lumber, which contains, as far as he knew, NO recycled material. Last and not least, I think we all know about the negative impact of huge box stores like Home Depot on our local land and small businesses. I have seen it first hand in my area.

I was trying to give Home Depot credit for the one positive environmental experience that I have had at the store. With the obscene amount of money that this company has they could, and should, be doing mountains more than they are. And when you commit a disgraceful crime against the environment such as Home Depot has, you have a lot of making up to do before you're going to convince me that the overall company truly cares about the environment as much as they care about their pockets.

I am not going to spend my time trading insults with you. I am proud o work for a company who provides jobs in many small communities at livable wages and better benefits than other businesses will consider paying. I am proud to work for an employer who participates in and doantes to many, many community disaster relief projects at no cost to the consumer, unlike others who pawn their wares in a mobile truck at jacked up prices to people who have no choice but to buy when they can't get to a retailer.I am proud to work for a company who both supports and cares about it's employees and it's communities.

As a 12 year veteran, I am well aware of the problems with the company now and in the past in relation to the environment, and do not deny them. I, however, choose to focus on the now and the future, doing what I can to improve the environment with my coworkers and leaders rather than dwelling on what should have been done - I cannot change what has happened. I can only affect what happens today and from now on.

I simply responded to your comment, which made the company sound like an environmental leader, which it is not. I write about companies all the time who choose to put the environment first and foremost and Home Depot certainly is not one of them. Home Depot is simply a case of a huge corporation taking way more than it gives. Maybe it's better than some others, but that doesn't necessarily make it good. If the hardware store down the street hadn't gone out of business, a son would have been able to continue to work for his father and pass the business down to his son or daughter. As always, what is the real cost of those "cheaper" prices?

I truly applaud your personal efforts and hope the company continues to make this a priority, but Home Depot will never be a hero of mine.

I just want to respond to the ideas about Eco Spec Paint. Benjamin Moore states clearly on their website that "Benjamin Moore Offers Eco Spec® a low odor low VOC product that has received approval from both GreenGuard® and Green Seal®."

This is not a No-Voc paint.

Thank you. That's what I thought. Now, we're all clear on that.

blog on earnings in the Internet sites and move any other information

i work with the freshaire paint all the time as a home depot employee and i think that this brand of paint is exceptional comparred to other no-low voc paints. it still has an odor but its not nearly as bad as some of the other products out on the market..-vince

It's a shame that in researching no voc paint I have instead found slander. If it is to get political here, then we should all remember that it's just paint... This is by far the most affordable, and most accesible option of "green" paint. Thank you to the Home Depot for working with ICI to make this product affordable to the masses, remember that it's usually because of the inaccesability to the masses that progressively cleaner, greener, and safer products dont actualize into the norm.

I have shared no slander- just facts about Home Depot's environmental record. If I am going to talk about a product from this corporation, I believe it is important not to overlook this. It is great that they have come out with this paint and it is a nice step in the right direction, but it does not erase the past. I believe it would be irresponsible for me to have not shared this information in my article because it is a part of who this company is. And yes, it is just paint, but the point is that there is a bigger issue here- environmental stewardship as a whole. I always tell people that if they really want to know if a product or company is truly environmental, you have to do a lot of research on your own. You cannot trust an advertisement/single employee etc. When you buy that can of paint, your dollars say that you support their business and the way that they are doing business and I for one, want to know what that means.

Make sure those other NO VOC paints are still NO VOC when tinted... A lot of times they are no VOC until you change the color. Then they are considered a LOW VOC paint

Here's a link to Home Depot's Eco Options campaign. It includes info about the Fresh Aire paint and many more eco friendly products.

The customers who have used the no-VOC paint have almost unanimously reported excellent results. And while the color pallet is limited at this time, it is varied enough that most folks can find something they like. If there is enough demand for the product, the selection of colors will be expanded.

I feel that maybe some of the posters here are ignorant of Home Depot's recent trends and accomplishments relating to environmental responsibility.

Anyone bothered to look at all the Energy Star rated appliances HD sells and the 10% off promos they offer regularly on the same?

How many trees did they recently plant in Atlanta?

Know what their policy is on lumber suppliers as it relates to old-growth cutting?

How about their CFL and used battery recycling programs?

How 'bout the fact that that $1.3M fine was due to the construction companies' failure to follow clean water policies during construction...not the stores'?

Are you aware that they generally strive to mitigate any environmental impact a new store may have by at least 200%? (example: If they take an acre of wetlands, they will improve and/or create at least 2 acres of wetlands.)

Know about their recent paper reduction, by not printing a store copy of customer agreements?

Educate yourselves and then decide whether HD is only concerned with the bottom line...they go out of their way to be a more environmentally responsible company than most others despite being the second largest retailer in the country. If you want to castigate them for not doing more, stop and think about how bad it would be if they decided that the bottom line was all that mattered.

I work for the big orange box, and despise it in many ways, but even I have to admit they are one of the most enviro-friendly corporations in America, big or small.

please try it i love the new paint and stop making homedepot sound like a big walmart! really move on with past issues, try the product if u like it great if not just move on.

Choice of freshhaire are very well. It is very good choice for painting.

Are you Kidding me. How do you get off being a paint expert. You are oviusly A typical tree hugger anti coporate against Home depot. I don't work for them but give me a brake. By the way Behr paint is rated number 1 for years with a real non bias company. I don't see where you get off.. This is the problem with this country, people just spew what ever they want. Stop Hateing

Yes, I do know a lot about paint and can make judgments about which ones work better than others because I have used them. I don't exactly know why you think you're qualified to criticize my knowledge of paint when you clearly don't know anything about me. If you would actually read the article, I state that the Freshaire paint is pretty good and give credit to Home Depot for creating it and the effort that they are making. I know all about what they're doing for the environment and what they're not doing. This is the entire premise of what I do. I research companies and products and report on what I find- I don't just throw out random opinions as you suggest. I certainly do not make rude and ignorant judgments and statements about people whom I know nothing about as you clearly like to do. You're lucky there are "tree-huggers" out there trying to protect the environment for you and future generations.

I wouldn't waste my time hating Home Depot; I hope that they continue to improve their environmental practices- they seem to be moving in the right direction. I have no problem giving credit where credit is due and that's what I did with this article. Sorry if some of you would like me to bend the truth to make Home Depot look better. That's not what I do.

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