Category Archives: Eco-friendly

Milk Paint

Milk paint is made from three ingredients: milk, lime powder and earth-based pigments taken from clay or minerals. As a result, it is purely natural and completely non-toxic. It’s even biodegradable, and could be poured out into a flower bed without doing any harm.

Applied to almost any wooden surface, milk paint is also exceedingly durable. In fact, it’s infamously difficult for anyone who tries to remove it — even after many decades or centuries of wear, a trained professional is ofen required to completely strip an item of its milk paint.

The use of milk paint dates to prehistoric times, but its use increased greatly in both Europe and America during the 19th. century, as improved farming techniques made milk abundant and inexpensive. The reason a great many barns were traditionally painted red was that a large quantity of paint could easilly be made using surplus milk and red clay.

During the Industrial Revolution, there were an array of developments in other, chemical-based paints which provided many more options. The ultimate undoing of milk paint, however, was the rapid distribution of other paints which were mass-produced and shipped around the continent to turn up conveniently on store shelves. Milk paint, naturally, will spoil in a short period of time, and so cannot be transported in that way. (It was, and is today, shipped as a powder just like powdered milk, but that’s relatively inconvenient to the average barn-painter.)

Country Bedroom Collection

Part of the Country Bedroom Collection

More and more, however, milk paint is being rediscovered by furniture makers and crafters. A newfound appreciation for these timeless paints stems not only from their eco-friendly credentials, but their usefulness in creating “antiqued” and distressed looks as well. If you’re thinking about trying your hand at your own project, you can learn about making your own milk paint from The Real Milk Paint Co.

A wide range of our Cottage Furniture products are available with a variety of milk paint finishes, which are glazed for protection as well as an added sheen. They can be found throughout our Furniture categories, as well as our Country and Farmhouse Collections such as:

Jute

Jute is a fiber obtained from a tall slender family of reeds known by the unlikely name Sparrmanniaceae, which are indigenous to India and Bangladesh. Up to 13 feet in length when harvested and incredibly strong, the fiber is spun into thread and then woven into a variety of fabrics with a variety of purposes.

Even if you don’t have a jute rug or a ball of jute twine laying around, you may be more familiar with jute than you think — among other things, it’s what the fabric known in North America as burlap is made from. In fact, it’s cited as one of the most versatile natural materials in the world. Its broad, coarse base is used to make rough, inexpensive fabrics used in erosion control, while its tip is so fine that it’s often used in making artificial silk.

It’s sometimes called the “golden fiber”, and that is for two distinct reasons: firstly, its rich off-white to bronze coloring with a natural sheen, and secondly, its high rate of profitability for the farmer. Many would argue that it could be called “golden” for more reasons than that, as well as that “golden” could easilly be replaced by “green”.

What’s so eco-friendly about jute? Like cotton, it’s a natural material, completely biodegradable and recyclable. Unlike cotton, however, it can be grown in vast amounts without the use of pesticides or herbicides. Its cultivation in the river delta environment doesn’t involve the destruction of forest or wetlands that other materials do. The process of extracting the fiber from the plant — called “retting” — can be done chemical-free, and typically requires only naturally running water and human effort.

Harvest Table Set

Harvest Table Set

At Relaxed Cottage Living, we offer a variety of quality jute products, all manufactured in the U.S.A. and including the Harvest Collection seen above (not seen is the Harvest Rug). Find them in our new Eco-friendly Theme Category, as well as: