Go to the local – or chain – hardware store and take a stroll to the paint section, where rows upon rows and literally thousands of color choices may await customers. What’s in that paint? In many cases, that information can be more than difficult to unearth.
In the vast majority of cases the base material is latex, supplemented by a witch’s brew of chemicals to achieve consistency, color, and so forth, produced with petro-chemical or synthetic ingredients. The result, whatever the formula, is often toxic. Who wants that?
Florian Speier and Jessica Pfohl are among those looking for something more. Out of frustration at the “greenwashing and lack of ingredient transparency in the paint industry,” the husband and wife team founded Unearthed Paints with the determination to help change the industry.
“We believe that consumers have a right to know what ingredients are in their paints,” proclaims the company website. “We proudly list all the ingredients in our paint on the front of every label. We hope that other paint manufacturers will follow our lead so that consumers can make informed decisions about the paints they bring into their homes.”
So, what’s in their paint? Unearthed carries natural paint, meaning paint made with ingredients such as earth & mineral pigments, marble, clay, and chalk. The medium comes to the consumer accompanied by a full ingredient disclosure. It is truly 100% VOC-free and biodegradable.
While clay and mineral paints have never gone out of popularity in Europe and Japan, here in America such natural finishes have been largely forgotten. Florian and Jessica hope to change that.
After months of relationship-building with the German company Kreidezeit, arrangements were made earlier this year to begin importing the latter’s natural finishes to the U.S., where the product was rebranded for American consumers. Unearthed Paints was born. Now its creators are in the building process, attracting vendors and the attention of the press, with the aim of winning some market share away from an industry dominated by latex paint.
There are six types of paint offered by the company. Four are sold as dry powder, to be mixed on site: clay paint and its thicker variation, clay roll-on plaster, Vega Paint (a vegan update on traditional milk paint recipes), and plant glue paint. Pit lime paint and Gecko Paint are sold as liquid bases.
Similar care is taken for remainder of the product line. On offer are three types of plaster in various textures, two natural wood finishes, along with primers, thinners, and a selection of pigment used to infuse color.
The goal of sustainability is carried into every aspect of the business, even unto consideration for energy use. While many of the ingredients in conventional latex paints – such as petroleum products and titanium dioxide – require an energy-intensive process to produce, natural paints, in contrast, are minimally processed and made with ingredients which are abundantly available (clay, chalk) or recycled (reclaimed Italian marble). To complement to this sourcing, Unearthed’s paint is manufactured in a carbon-neutral facility and shipped via carbon-offset transport.
The founders of Unearthed also translate their philosophy into action through their Rainforest Pledge: a program currently dedicated to helping preserve the rainforest in Paraguay. For every square foot of Unearthed paints, plasters, or wood finishes purchased by a customer, the company will purchase one square foot of rain forest and donate it back to the Enxet and Ayoreo tribes, which are indigenous to the region.
Details of the pledge can be found at the Unearthed Paints’ website. Once there, wander around a bit and learn about this inspiring company, which is definitely (pardon the chestnut) walking its talk.