Thwart the Diabolical Extraterrestrials: Buy Local Paint

This is the tenth in a series of articles for the New Life Journal.

By: Clarke Snell

Are you going insane like me? Do you ever sit in a parking lot and imagine the forest that used to be there? Do you ever look at the eastbound river of cars while you’re flowing westbound and ask yourself, “Where are we all going? Why can’t they stay where they are and do what I need to do there, while I stay where I am and do what they need to do here?” In the deep of night while the bedbugs bite, do you ever ask yourself, “What do rabbits know that I don’t?”

Yes, I must be crazy. So crazy that I’m completely baffled by how we humans come to find ourselves in the present world of our making. I’m so bent that to me we seem to be the only critters on the planet that can’t go with the flow. You know: live, eat, have babies, die, become compost for plants that are in turn eaten by our babies…repeat cycle. Is it my demented ramblings, or is our obsession with experimentation and childish competition grinding us to dust? Here’s my call for entries to all scientists, priests, freaks, and super-models: What the hell are we doing here?

My favorite theory about the existence of human life on planet earth is that we were seeded here by extraterrestrials. Sort of like bees making honey, they knew that we’d bring all the raw materials of the planet to the surface, process them into useful compounds and units like plastics and alloys, then concentrate them in piles (cities, landfills, etc.) where our masters could then easily harvest these goodies for their own use. If this process eventually killed the worker drones (us) or adversely effected the lifecycles of the planet itself, that would be of no concern. The point was efficient resource extraction. Though admittedly ridiculous and based on no facts (sort of like our present foreign policy), this theory has a compelling internal consistency and does offer an explanation for certain strange human behaviors such as packaging small amounts of water in plastic bottles. At the very least, it allows us to feel like we’re doing a good job.

Whatever the origin of our shenanigans, we’ve become so intransigent that the planet itself seems to be trying to throw us off. That’s the image that scientist James Lovelock used in an interview I heard recently. He said that humans have become an invading virus on the organism that is planet Earth. Global warming is the response, the fever attempting to combat the virus. The earth, though, is in the latter stages of its life, and therefore, like any senior citizen, may not be able to survive the fever.

Gawd. The more it all sinks in, the more I understand Disneyworld: Attention Citizens, just don’t think about it and watch the big mouse with the white gloves… I mean, how do we stop being a virus!?

Well, I’m no genius, but one thing I can do is pay attention. When you do that, you start hearing a lot of good ideas. Here are a few: Let’s not drive lettuce in from California when it’s being grown right here. Let’s not drive wood in from Oregon when it grows right here. Let’s not drive paint in from who knows where when it’s made right here….What?

That’s right, if you live in the distribution area of this magazine, you have access to locally made, non-toxic, environmentally conscious paints, masonry sealers, and wood finishes. The company, based in Asheville, is called Earthpaint. It’s founder, Tom Rioux, started his career in painting at the age of 14. After many years as a professional painter, Tom become deathly ill. His kidneys, liver, and lungs were failing and he had horrible arthritis. After 3 years of chemotherapy and major diet and other lifestyle changes, Tom pulled through. He was convinced that it was paint that almost killed him, so he decided to dedicate himself to researching and developing better paints.

After literally more than 1,000 failures and a major investment in lab time and other entrepreneurial necessities, Tom has developed a line of finishes that are truly amazing. They are biodegradable; made up of non-toxic, native ingredients from plants, minerals and other basic elements. Except for a single ingredient in one product, all of Earthpaint’s materials are harvested within an eight hour drive of Asheville. Most travel less than four hours. What’s more, they not only compare to modern synthetic finishes in price, but in many cases outperform them. For example, Earthpaint’s Interior Clear Skies wall paint carries a full 25 year warranty!

Talking with Tom about paint is a true inspiration. Not only because he’s fun and really knows what he’s talking about but because, well…you’re talking to him. He’s not just a billboard, a label, or a trademark. He’s your neighbor telling you real-world, no BS stories about the reality of paint. (Ask him about VOC’s, for example, if you want to hear a real nail-biter with a surprise ending.) Tom’s business is family-owned (no pesky stockholders demanding his soul) and truly local which allows his intentions to be personal and passionate. It also makes him accountable to us.  If we have a problem, we can talk to him about it. Such a set-up will by definition be “green” to the max. The rationale won’t be based on barely meeting provisions in compromised government regulations vetted by corporate interests, but on the simple and obvious credo that you don’t soil your nest.

To me, that’s the transformative power of building a truly local economy. Earthpaint’s success is our success. If Tom fails, we all loose. Perhaps our only problem is that we don’t really believe that we’re all in this together. As long as there is a mythical Bahamas to retire to, then people will continue to soil their bed before they sell it to someone else. What we need is more Earthpaints. They are out there trying to be born. All they need is our help. It’s a no-brainer, people. Buy, sell, eat, drink, build, live, and die local…unless you want some two-headed ten-eyed aliens coming down here to steal plastic from our cold dead hands.

For more information about Earthpaints, visit their website or call them at 828-258-2580.

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