AltUse Find - Could a Paint Brush Save the Planet?

nov-dec 2007 053
An Unsucessful cleaning of my new Envirobrush
I am a complete sucker for any product that includes the word, “Enviro,” in its name. Even if it is pure green marketing, the product definitely has my attention. Well, I had an “enviro” moment recently in all places, the hardware store.

I needed to buy a paint brush, and started to scan the aisles looking at all the interesting hardware items. (Yes, I find hardware stores fascinating, and could be an avid DIY’er if I wasn’t such a klutz.)

Minding my own business, admiring all the supplies, I was suddenly distracted by a full 50-piece band with baton twirlers coming down the aisle with a float pulled by gleaming white horses. And there she was! Queen of the parade. Beautiful and partly green wearing the enviro-tiara. The Envirobrush, an environmental paint brush. I was breathless. (And the marketing gods knew they hooked me. Check 1 for them.) The story gets better if you can believe it.

Oh, my gosh. What is this, I wondered? It did not look very environmental except it was partly green, of course.You can’t be green unless you wear the team colors.Check 2 for the marketing gods.

What made it environmental, as I scratched my head?Was it made out of recycled toothbrushes or soda bottles? I looked for the recycling triangle thinking maybe you could recycle it after you were done. I figured it wasn’t edible since you had to paint with it. I got it, I murmured, it is glued together with corn starch! I was dumbfounded as to why it was named Envirobrush. (The marketing gods, then sighed heavily, and realized that they had to spell it out better for us dumb green clueless people.)

So, I asked the woman behind the desk hoping she could shed some light on this perplexing situation. I knew she was watching me turning the package over and over again, and did not know if I had some marbles loose. She explained that you can change the heads of the brushes instead of buying a multitude of brushes for different jobs. Less waste, stupid, she was thinking.

According to the company, 300 million paint brushes are thrown away each year in Canada and the United States.Of those paint brushes, I would gather many of them have solvent paint thinner or solvent based paints on them. It is not fun cleaning paint brushes. So much easier to throw them away like Kleenex, many people may think.

So why is this brush so clever? According to the literature of the Company,
    replaceable bristles

  • The paint brush reduces waste in landfills since you can just throw away the bristles after they are not longer any good.

  • Change paint colors quickly without changing brushes or waiting for your one brush to dry for us frugal gals.
  • Requires only a small amount of water or solvent for clean up.

  • Saves money since buying the bristle packages is so much cheaper than buying a new brush – (Keep the handle).
  • Reduction in the use of solvents to clean brushes since you can throw it away instead.
  • There are a variety of filament and bristles. There are different sizes, angled super bristles, and regular angled polyester type bristles. (Beyond the beginner painter talk.)
  • The brush is durable and of quality construction.
  • The “unique bristle strand placement and gluing process helps eliminate annoying bristle strand loss common to traditional paint brushes.”
  • Saves time since clean up is easier. According to the Company, “The Enviro Brush® system applies tension to the bristle approximately 3//8” above the glue line to minimize paint buildup resulting in a fast and complete cleanup.” (More painter talk.)
  • The Fandle® (combined handle and ferrule) is manufactured with a special recyclable plastic blend.See, I knew there was some sort of recycled material in it.
These reasons work for me! Why own a multitude of brushes when you can own only one? It is like owning one great outfit with many accessories to change the look.

Who would have thought of such an invention? An environmental painter, right? Close to the right answer.Terry Douglas, president of the Canadian based Kwick Clean and Green ® Ltd., has first hand knowledge of the painting business. He has owned companies that made and sold paint and manufactured airless paint sprayers. The Envirobrush company has combined an environmental mission with a handy practical paint brush. Everyone wins in this situation.

Happily, I went home with my new brush. Correction. New Envirobrush. Mind you, my painting skills are probably below a beginner’s level so my observations may or may not be very accurate. I liked the way the brush felt and the bristles were soft and flexible. Not as much dripping as an ordinary brush. Unfortunately, I did not have a good experience cleaning it.

I was priming a section of a fiberglass column, and was required to use a special solvent based primer. I read that you had to use a solvent to remove oil based primers. Perhaps I let it stay on the brush too long before cleaning or had no idea how to clean it. Who knows? I used Mineral Spirits so that may not have been right either. I know I will try and avoid all solvent based products in the future. The low odor Mineral Spirits still burned my eyes. (Yes, they manufacturer a low odor Mineral Spirit product.)

I wish I would have found the Klickitat County,Washington website, which suggested using hot vinegar to soak your paint brushes with hardened solvent based paint before I did the Mineral Spirit stint. After I killed a few brain cells I guess I will live and learn.

Unfortunately, the Kwick Clean and Green ® Ltd’s website does not list who carries their product. I gathered this product has been around for awhile, sinceFamily Handyman did a nice review of it in 2001. It may be in your local hardware store, and you just missed the band coming down the aisle. Otherwise, you can email them or call them to find out where the brushes are sold.

I hope that my other brushes aren’t going to be a little green with envy over my Envirobrush. She is the new kid in town and she is here to stay!