Where does your paint come from?
I’m glad you ask as the answer is fascinating. It takes us on a journey from the flax fields of Germany to the ochre cliffs of Provence, from the lac insects of India to the forests of Canada.
Paint making has always required pigments, binders and solvents and in recent times mainstream paint makers have been sourcing these from retort chemistry companies and ultimately therefore, oil corporations.
Sad to say that if something is ‘cheap’ in our modern world it is often because the true costs have been outsourced. Many of our purchases are now being subsidised by exploited labour, endangered species and precious environments.
We all know about it if we are paying attention, but we choose to ignore it. If we have the goods we want and the lifestyle we like it falls to others to sort out the legacy of our choices.
Now things are beginning to change.
People are coming to the realisation for instance that fighting climate change is not about ‘saving the planet’ it is about preserving the human race’s ability to inhabit it.
Environmentalism is a social project, as is humanitarianism. If we degrade the planet or if we take people into bondage we are doing the same thing – we are harming fellow human beings.
The Modern Slavery Act (2015) will start to change this, by outlawing slavery in its modern forms, but also by addressing the supply chain in global business. Over a certain size, companies will now have to demonstrate that their supply chains are slavery free. Believe me this is not easy – our small company has just tried.
We buy our base paint from two German manufacturers; both have an ethical stance and use sustainably sourced materials. We know what these are and we publish them in full on our website.
They are sourced from all over the world from a wide range of suppliers – from large mining corporations to small rural communities. It would be very difficult to inspect every source, let alone the facilities in which materials are graded, traded, processed and packaged. At one level therefore, we have to take it on trust that in all these areas human rights are being protected. We trust our suppliers as they have a very clearly defined ethos and they are disclosing significantly more information about their products than others in the same industry. We pass this information on in the form of a full declaration of our paint ingredients, both on the tin and on our website where it is accompanied by an explanation of their nature and purpose.
Our ingredients are natural but some are processed, generally by reaction with heat or plant acid. They are all of plant, earth or mineral origin. These are the materials of traditional paint making. Modern mainstream paint making however, derives the majority of its ingredients from chemical processing companies and ultimately crude oil.
I would be hard pushed to trust a supplier to be slave free if ultimately their products derive from a fossil source that has caused so much conflict – directly and indirectly!
#askthequestion is our way to use social media to ensure that companies take the issue of modern slavery seriously and help eradicate it.
GUEST BLOGGER: Edward Bulmer