The finishes you use in your home are very important to your health. This includes paint, oils, floor sealers and stains. Livos Australia produce a range of eco friendly floor sealer, stains, paints and oils. After working extensively in the coatings industry in Switzerland, Angela and her husband relocated to Australia (with two young daughters in tow), bringing with them a new perspective on health issues caused by many synthetic products. Once settled in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, the couple established ‘Anro Floorcare’ a specialist floor sanding service using only safe and natural finishes. Fuelled by their passion to educate people about the hidden health risks associated with many commonly used paints and stains, in 2006 they jumped at the chance to take over the Australia wide distributorship of the country’s premier eco friendly range of products – Livos.
You offer a wide range of products from floor finishes, to paints, even children’s finger paints! Can you tell us some more about the various product ranges Livos offers?
Livos products are produced under the Rudolf Steiner principal of using renewable raw materials with the health of the individual as top priority. Being the first industrial manufacturer to openly declare their full list of ingredients, the entire range is truly safe and natural. These products are the healthier alternatives to traditional synthetic coatings and are readily available to all, Australia wide.
The large range of products are very versatile and may be used on various surfaces including
- Oils and stains for sustainable care of floors (timber and concrete), furniture, doors and windows
- Naturally nourishing oils for exterior surfaces such as decks and furniture.
- Vapour permeable, VOC free paints and tints for safer decorating.
- Cleaners (concentrates) and waxes for responsible care and maintenance.
Not only are these products suitable for the professional, but also not difficult to use for the hobbyist or DIYer. Also and largely due to demand, we have introduced a range of safe face and finger paints for kids.
Can you tell us about your products and their eco impact such as VOCs? How are green credentials assured in these kinds of products?
Livos natural paints and finishes are derived from plant oils, natural resins and waxes, and earth and mineral colours, rather than from petroleum and industrial by-products. The precious raw materials are grown under supervision and harvested in compliance with the principles of sustainable resources. They are constantly monitored and quality control samples of each batch manufactured are kept for five years. Livos products do not contain synthetic fungicides or other synthetic poisons.
Operating ethically and responsibly is also very important to Livos.
Livos’s key principles include:
- sustainable economic planning
- closed recycling systems
- high technical quality with ecologically flawless products
- customer focused operations
- regeneration of the environment
- reducing ecological footprint
- consumer awareness and independence
- fair trade principles
The Livos range of products is manufactured under the very strict European regulations with full ingredient disclosure that is readily available, allowing a completely informed choice. VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) is a largely confusing subject and to go into detail will require more space. However just to start readers thinking… if you feel no VOC is the better option, then let’s ban oranges which also contain VOCs! What is the use of knowing if a product is high or low VOC? In fact this figure is only when it is in the tin….it does not tell you how the product actually reacts in the indoor air once used.
Why do we purchase Livos from Germany?
- After living in Europe and using these premium products, nothing else has been comparable.
- Livos take an holistic approach in the manufacture of all their products. It is not enough to simply be labelled green, as “green wash” is widespread. All our ingredients are fully declared allowing the consumer to make an informed choice.
- The gas emissions for the manufacture and shipping of these natural products to Australia is very low and often lower than when compared to the manufacture of similar purpose synthetic products made and transported within Australia.
LIVOS products are manufactured from a majority of natural raw materials and require low energy during processing. Linseed oil, used in a significant portion of the range, is derived from flax seed grown locally to the point of manufacturing, resulting in reduced transportation energy and GHG emissions.
GHG intensities for container shipping the product is– 0.54 kgCO2e / 2.5 L container
What are the issues with people not using environmentally friendly products to do DIY jobs?
The implications are many. Number one is the health aspect. Many of the new synthetic coatings that have been produced in the last 30 odd years have no long term history of how these new “chemicals” react when combined with others, what effects these will have on the human body, especially the pregnant, babies and the elderly. The more natural the product is the less it is manipulated and it is less taxing on production resources such as water and energy. Are the products degradable or are fully biodegradable? How does it affect our water ways? Are they produced from renewable materials or crude oil? Some “environmentally” friendly products are not actually friendly to our environment in the long term.
Just because you may not be sensitive to these types of products now, does not mean you will never be. Why does Australia have one of the highest asthma and allergy rates in the world when we are not as densely populated as many other countries? For the increasing number of chemically sensitive people, they are aware of what they react to, but if they are unable to establish a product’s actual components, then they can potentially be using a very toxic product. This would create not only debilitating pain and suffering, but is also taxing on our health industry, not to mention time and monetary issues.
To enable choice we need to be better informed. When choosing whether to buy a new food item or not, often we look first at the ingredients. Why can’t the manufacturers of building products do the same? It is not sufficient for manufacturers to simply state their ingredient list is a “trade secret”. Without accurate information, especially a full declaration, how are we supposed to make a truly informed choice.
What is one of your favourite products?
Me personally, The Kunos natural oil sealer in white. I prefer lighter colors and have used this product on our old radiate pine floors at home. This stops it from going the typical yellow color of pine and just recently I sanded back a heavily varnished table and used this oil on it. Not only is it easy to use but is also certified food safe.
How hard wearing are the products, in particular the floor products?
The natural resins, waxes and oils in Livos products impregnate the timber and seal it from within, unlike a varnish coating. There is no plastic coating on top of the timber to be worn off. It won’t edge the boards together and you feel the timber under your feet. Remember, whilst a varnish coating may last longer, it never looks as good as the day it was done.
A maintenance plan will keep oiled floors looking great for many years to come. When the surface looks a bit tired, a rejuvenation is an easy process. Importantly, you don’t need to sand the floor (causing dust) or move out of home. There are no hard and fast rules about how often to rejuvenate, but typically around 5 years. If in a commercial or school situation, the floor would benefit from an annual rejuvenation. It all depends on the area of the home, your lifestyle, and whether the floors are cleaned and vacuumed regularly.
There are several ways to rejuvenate an oiled floor and return it to its glory. A huge benefit of the Livos impregnating oils is this can be done without the need for re-sanding, which also saves the wearing out of the timber boards. Spot repairs and spot rejuvenation can take place quickly and with little effort, without having to move out of home.
Are there any particular things people need to do to maintain say a floor after using a Livos product?
With a little sensible care, your timber floor will be a pleasure to live with. The key is to prevent problems before they occur. The amount of care needed will depend on your location and lifestyle.
Initially, vacuuming or sweeping are the best methods of cleaning. After the initial hardening/curing time where the waxes and resins harden, you can mop the floors with the Livos TRENA Neutral cleaner that we supply and recommend. This is a concentrate, so very little is required. To add a slight sheen to the floor, GLANOS Liquid Wax Cleaner can be used. The Livos cleaners are mid and effective, won’t strip the natural surface coating and are grey water safe. Floors should not be overwashed as timber does not like much water, whatever it is coated in. These cleaners may also be used on other surfaces like tiles and lino.
Is it easy for people to do the work themselves?
The Livos products are well suited for DIYers so if it was something they were interested in doing themselves there are a number of helpful “hint and tips” info sheets as well as videos on our website http://www.livos.com.au/tips__tricks as users of these products ourselves, we are also readily available by email or phone to assist with any questions or provide advice.
You have a fabulous website, what kinds of information and services can people get from Livos?
A huge benefit is that we use the products ourselves and most of the photos of the floor surfaces and many decks, are ones we have sanded and oiled ourselves. Having worked in the industry for many years, both in Australia and in Switzerland, we try to pass on our knowledge and experience and offer as much information as possible – not only in the application of the actual products, but also in regard to the health aspect of products, especially in the building trade. All the products along with color charts, prices, technical data sheets, material safety data sheets and full 100% ingredients disclosure, are readily available at all times. “How to” information sheets covering preparation, application, maintenance and rejuvenation are also on the website coupled with some videos of the process. We offer a newsletter about 6 times a year, with current information, product updates and opportunities to meet with us at local expos etc. We are active on Facebook and twitter with lots of ideas, a beautiful gallery of pieces craftspeople and diyers have achieved, and snippets of tips for the seasons are also made available.
Where can people buy from?
Our showroom and office is based in Bayswater, south east of Melbourne, however we do have distributors all around Australia who can assist with all your Livos needs.
Their details can be found at www.livos.com.au Alternatively we have a webshop on our website where products can be purchased.
Making sure you are aware of these issues and taking steps to reduce your exposure to harmful products will go a long way to a happy healthy home. Do you consider these products in your home?