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VISITING DIFFERENT TYPES OF CONSTRUCTION STORES – Think before you buy

Visit to the “Toom” construction store in Munich, Germany

Shop manager introduced their product selection and answered to our questions

This kind man is a shop manager. He works at the common construction retail store in Germany with many branches around the country. You might ask why we have to visit such a shop. We wanted to see if a layperson with an average income in Germany can find goods for his/ her home renovation following the principle “look for eco-labelled products”, and what advice he or she could receive about safer product choice in the shop.

Almost 80% of all indoor paints in the construction store bear German official eco-label Blue angel

Paint section was our main stop as it turned out.  The shop manager said, it is the most sensitive product group. It is so because when using paints people have the greater possibility to be exposed to harmful chemicals.  The approach “sensitive product group” was really noticeable, because almost 80% of all indoor paints bear German official eco-label Blue angel. There were also paints that say there is zero VOC (volatile organic compounds – smelly stuff that comes from paints) in the content – meant for the most demanding customers in the store.

The main reason, why people are looking for safer paints and are asking for the detailed content information, are allergies.  It is a well-known fact that these allergic diseases are increasing all over the world. In response to that producers are forced to lower emissions from their paints. People in Germany are also very concerned about sustainable development and climate change and their impact on the environment, but not so much in the Baltic States.

The most surprising fact was not the wide offer of eco-labelled goods in the shelves (for the last two to three years it has become a very popular trend), but the manager’s overall knowledge about the problem of chemicals in paints, corresponding requirements and everything about this theme. He was able to answer all our tricky questions about the content and symbols. If the sales personnel acknowledge the problem, it always is good news for customers because they can get a good advice  and have a safer choice in the end.  It is not just about having good sales numbers.

Visit to a natural construction store in Munich, Germany

Yes, this is probably the way we would feel when living (working) in a room, where only natural construction materials are used (sold). There is no worry about something nasty quietly evaporating from the floor or walls.

During the visit in the shop of natural construction materials, most of us saw 100% natural origin paints for the first time. At first sight they looked just like all the other paints, but the main difference is that all the ingredients, including pigments come from nature. By the way, natural paints are not tested for the Blue Angel label, because they are 100% natural. Besides paints, we could find a wide range of mineral colour pigments, different finishing products, wood flooring materials and even natural glues in the store.

Shop owner explains the benefits of natural wool carpets.

We also got acquainted with the softest products available in the shop – natural wool carpets (only sheep wool plus bee wax) and beds, which as promised by the shop manager, would last for more than one generation.

Even if it isn’t cheap to get a natural outfit for your apartment, it is good to know that these investments will pay off someday because most of the natural products have a long life cycle.