The change the wallpaper can bring to a space is immeasurable. With numerous style and color options available, the only problem is how to choose! There are also non toxic wallpaper options that, frankly, are non-negotiable when it comes to the health of your family. How eco-friendly are these wallpapers? Do you need to buy sustainable wallpaper instead of regular wallpaper? Let’s find out.
- Are Wallpapers Toxic?
- What is Sustainable Wallpaper?
- Best Non Toxic Wallpaper Brands
- 1 // Graham & Brown
- 2 // La Grand Classique on Etsy
- 3 // Mind The Gap
- 4 // MissPrint Wallpaper
- 5 // Spoonflower
- 6 // Stories for Walls
- 7 // twenty2 Grasscloth Wallpapers
- 8 // Wallpaper from the 70s (Grass Roll on)
- 9 // Wallquest
- 10 // York Wallcoverings
- 11 // Non toxic Wallpaper for Nursery: If Your Walls Would Talk
- 12 // Best Eco-friendly Peel and Stick Wallpaper: Wallshoppe
- Non Toxic Wallpaper Adhesive
- Invest in Eco-friendly Wallpaper
Are Wallpapers Toxic?
All this while, up until a few years ago, wallpapers were simply made to look good and last long. This meant they ended up containing toxins, including volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the vinyl and the ink. They also, depending on how they were manufactured, contained mercury, lead and cadmium, which aren’t safe for us at all.
The aspect that aggravates this situation is that wallpaper is very durable, with most wallpapers lasting for up to 15 years. Sometimes, very well-maintained wallpaper lasts for a few decades! Imagine that long of an exposure to the toxins in your wallpaper.
What is Sustainable Wallpaper?
Now that we know the ill-effects of VOCs and heavy metals, there has been an explosion of new, eco-friendly, non-toxic varieties of sustainable wallpaper. Many of these are simple peel-and-stick types, or removable ones that do not damage your walls. Some are print-on-demand, and others are custom-made. But all of the brands listed in this post are non-toxic, eco-friendly, and super stylish.
Make note of certifications that bolster the claims of the wallpaper brands. It’s important to opt for products made from sustainable sources (including organic and/or recycled materials). FSC-certified wood is also a great indicator of sustainable materials used. Also, make sure the wallpaper is specifically marked as low-VOC or zero-VOC, and PVC-free and toxic-metal free.
Let’s go into more detail:
What to Look for in Eco-Friendly Wallpaper?
1 / Materials
Paper is among the most eco-friendly materials for wallpaper. Paper can be organic or recycled for added sustainability points. Or, at least make sure the paper is sourced from FSC-certified, sustainably managed forests.
Grasscloth wallpaper is usually made from renewable fibers such as arrowroot, reed, hemp and jute. These fibers need to be procured from sustainable sources.
2 / Inks
Solvent-based inks made of pigments are the most common. But solvents emit VOCs. Look for water-based inks and vegetable dyes, instead.
3 / Toxic Metals
A study by The Ecology Center revealed that wallpaper commonly contains toxic metals such as arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium (which was found in a fifth of all samples), and tin.
4 / Flame Retardants
Brominated flame retardants (containing bromide) and retardants containing tin are commonly used on traditional wallpapers. Not only are such flame retardants not required in residential areas, but these chemicals are known to cause adverse health effects in humans and wildlife. Look for clay coated wallpaper, which is both eco-friendly and effective.
GREENGUARD-certified have low levels of VOCs. However, many wallpapers are coated in PVC/vinyl, which don’t classify as VOC and therefore escape certification conditions.
Best Non Toxic Wallpaper Brands
When you’re ready to change up your walls, remove your old wallpaper and replace it with one of these stunning brands:
1 // Graham & Brown
carbon-neutral | free shipping | samples available
So Graham & Brown was the Wallpaper of the Year 2022. They’re also a carbon-neutral company that is en route to becoming carbon zero “within the decade.” According to Graham & Brown, “The greenest product available is actually old fashioned wallpaper, but it doesn’t wear well, it’s hard to hang and is very difficult to remove.” They use recycled colorants and inks, to make water-based paints in tins that are 10% recyclable. They use state-of-the-art technology to measure their processes in order to minimize their waste.
Graham & Brown also sell eco-friendly wall paint.
Want to try out a design before committing? Order a sample!
2 // La Grand Classique on Etsy
Price: $44.99 for 19”x48”
Certified PVC-free | OEKO-TEX certified | recyclable | worldwide carbon-neutral shipping
This Etsy brand is run by some amazing people. The designs are beautiful, travel-inspired creations, and the wallpaper itself is recyclable. They are also removable within 24 hours (in case you want to change position or location of the strip). The strips, made from textiles, are self-adhesive. Write to them for more options, advice, and ideas! Plus, the shop has an average rating of 4.8 on Etsy, and they plant one tree for every wallpaper order over $200.
3 // Mind The Gap
Price: $170 (20.5 inches wide x 32.8 ft long)
high quality finishing | produced in batches
MindTheGap wallpaper is printed with eco-friendly inks. You apply the wallpaper by pasting adhesive on the wall and applying each individual strip (20.5’’x20.5’’), one by one, forming a seamless, continuous design. Made in Romania, these products are rich in detail and imbibe design elements of the local culture.
4 // MissPrint Wallpaper
Price: £80.00 (20in x 11yd)
hand-illustrated designs | PEFC or FSC certified | made in batches
UK-based MissPrint’s wallpaper has stunning hand-illustrated designs – from abstract, botanical designs to geometric patterns – in a range of colors. The company was established in 2005 by mother-daughter co-founders Yvonne and Rebecca Drury in the UK. All their wallpapers are PEFC- or FSC-certified and are printed with water-based inks.
5 // Spoonflower
Price: $24 for 24”x36”
carbon-neutral production | wind powered facility | reusable
Spoonflower works with independent artists to create their wallpaper designs. The wallpaper is produced at a carbon-neutral factory and printed at a wind-powered facility. They’re all removable and reusable, so if you are the finicky kind, you can rest assured with Spoonflower wallpaper!
6 // Stories for Walls
Price: $66.55 per square meter
Removable | Reusable | Cotton Finish | 99% Blockout | worldwide shipping
Their name makes sense when you browse through their massive collection of very interesting wallpaper designs. Australian brand Stories for Walls specializes in removable peel-and-stick wallpaper (though they also sell PVC-free traditional pre-pasted wallpaper). These are safe for kids’ rooms, and are water-resistant, scratch-resistant, and tear-resistant. The wallpaper is easy to install, and easy to remove, and has a subtle cotton finish that is completely matte. The wallpaper comes in a huge range of designs and themes, and they customize colors for you.
Price: $50 per yard
Sustainable manufacturing | biodegradable | hand-crafted | water-based vegetable dyes
So, twenty2 makes grasscloth wallpaper. What is grasscloth wallpaper, you ask? It’s made of woven fibers such as jute, hemp or agave, and has a paper backing for structure. They make for natural wallcoverings that look earthy and feel fresh. Twenty2’s wallpapers are handcrafted by skilled weavers, using sustainable, renewable plant fibers. twenty2 also partners with designers and artists to create high-end, eco-friendly wallpaper collections.
Price: £20.61 per square meter
Color variations | wet removable | spongeable
Looking for wallpaper that evokes a nostalgic retro mood? The founders consider the 1970s to be the “golden age of wallpaper,” and, unfortunately, their products contain vinyl (a quintessential retro item). One product that passes the eco-friendly test is the Grass on Roll 04 made from natural field and mountain grasses.
9 // Wallquest
water-based inks | environmentally friendly production | waste management
Wallquest has an environmentally friendly manufacturing and production process. Their wallpapers are printed on paper from well-managed, renewable forests or recycled sources, using water-based inks. They make sure that no excess ink or waste water is released into the water system. They do use vinyl in many of their products, so be careful while selecting your product (select paper or textile strings, etc in the ‘materials’ selection menu). Wallquest produces wallpapers for several brands.
10 // York Wallcoverings
Price: $45-$65 for 20.5″ x 240″
sustainably sourced paper | water-based inks | low VOC
This is an old company – 125+ years old – and have probably picked up a few eco-friendly tips through the years. York Wallcoverings are a member of the Green Building Council, and work with minimum raw materials, 100% natural fibers, and sustainable production methods in general. Their designs are gorgeous, and they partner with many top brands such as Rifle Paper Co. and Magnolia Home for lovely artistic collaborations.
11 // Non toxic Wallpaper for Nursery: If Your Walls Would Talk
Price: $45 for 23.5”x60”
Child-friendly | PVC-free | pigment-based inks | reusable
If Your Walls Would Talk is an Etsy-hosted small business that sells wallpaper, murals, decals and art prints. Their style is very vibrant and colorful, and perfect for your little one’s room. The wallpaper is printed with eco-friendly pigment-based inks, and is often reusable. Plus, the business owner is very approachable and helpful, so if you’re looking for customization, you’re at the right place.
12 // Best Eco-friendly Peel and Stick Wallpaper: Wallshoppe
sustainably made | made to order | easy peel-and-stick application
This hip, sustainable brand of wallpaper brand works with many other brands, including Barbie and Sarah Jessica Parker. Wallshoppe‘s removable wallpaper collection is stunning in its designs and colors. The wallpapers are digitally-printed on 100% nontoxic eco friendly paper
Non Toxic Wallpaper Adhesive
Commercial wallpaper glue can contain biocides, harmful chemicals, and other nasty stuff. If you are concerned about allergies and wonder what the exact ingredients in the wallpaper adhesive are, then the only source of information on that is the manufacturer.
Eco-friendly wallpaper adhesives are usually made from cellulose, wheat and clay, and even starch paste, and are activated with water. You could even try making your own wallpaper adhesive to be completely sure of the ingredients.
Invest in Eco-friendly Wallpaper
Well maintained wallpaper can easily last for 15+ years, so if you are worried about the expense of eco-friendly wallpaper, think of it more as a longer-term investment in your health. Also, many of the wallpaper brands listed here do not have a protective coating, which means they cannot be used in the same way as plastic wallpaper. But that same quality makes them less likely to peel and dog-ear.
So, basically, try to opt for water-based wall paints and PVC-free wallpapers for your living spaces to avoid toxins hiding in your walls.
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