Paint cans-messyIt’s getting warmer, birds are singing and things are looking greener.  Sounds like a good love song, doesn’t it?  We all appreciate the sights and sounds of spring.  Everything is coming to life after a long, sleepy winter.  Take hold of that fresh feeling as you do a little sprucing up around your house this spring and protect those little birdies all at the same time.  If your sprucing includes painting inside or out, we have some eco-friendly tips.

Buy it Right

How much you buy, how often you buy it, the formula you choose, and what you do with the unwanted stuff are all opportunities to make a huge environmental impact.  Planning is key.  Before you begin your next painting job, measure the space you plan to paint and buy only what you need.  There are many handy paint coverage calculators on-line, or the helpful staff members at your favorite paint counter can help you, too.  Don’t worry about having that extra half gallon of “Café Latte” for the touchups.  Chances are, you won’t use it and you will be stuck wondering where to store it until you ultimately have to figure out how to get rid of it.  Besides the paint being wasted, you also waste your money when you buy too much.  Save your money and save the planet by only buying what you’ll need.  Besides careful planning, there are other ways to make your home lovely without affecting the environment.  Make sure you are looking for low or no V.O.C’s in your paint formula.  Volatile organic compounds are a health hazard to your loved ones and pets, not to mention a threat to the environment.  Many home improvement stores now offer these formulas and they cover just as well as the smellier alternatives.  Whenever possible, purchase latex paint (water based) instead of oil-based paint.

Store it Right

Extreme temperatures will ruin paint!  If possible, store paint in an interior closet.  Be sure the lids are on tightly.  You can even store the cans upside down and allow the paint itself to form an airtight seal against the lid.

Use it Up

Before disposing of paint you no longer want, consider giving it another life.  Perhaps it would make a perfect primer for your next painting project.  Or, maybe a neighbor or local non-profit can use it.  Fortunately, Hendricks County now has a Habitat for Humanity ReStore located in Avon that will accept useable, full or nearly full cans of latex paint from the public for reuse.  And, they are currently accepting donations!  They plan to open for business on Saturday, April 11th (more on that next time).

Dry it Up

Since latex paint is water-based, it is not considered hazardous and can be dried out and set out for your normal garbage collection with the lids off (so your hauler can see that it’s been hardened).  Keep in mind, the garbage man will not accept liquid paint,it must be dry.  You can easily dry latex paint by adding equal parts clay kitty litter or sawdust to the paint and mixing it well.  We’ve produced a demonstration video to walk you through the steps.  Never pour paint down the drain or on the ground.  Septic systems and sewage treatment plants are not made to handle paint waste and can be released into our rivers, streams, or groundwater.  The same goes for pouring paint on the ground.  Rainwater washes anything on the ground through the soil layers where it can make its way into our drinking water.

Oil-based paint and many other paint products contain hazardous materials and should be brought to a District-sponsored Tox-Away Day for disposal (please no latex paint).  Hendricks County Solid Waste Management accepts oil-based paints and other household hazardous wastes for free at the events.  In addition, tires, electronics and appliances are also accepted.  Some fees may apply.


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