ABC's of Recycling,

P is for Paint

Mar 27 2023

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ABC’s of Smart Recycling

Paint is everywhere! Just about everyone has paint stashed somewhere in our homes–the basement, utility closet or (worst of all) the garage. Before you know it, those cans are dusty and maybe even, rusty. Time to toss ’em?

Hold on! There are a couple of things to consider first.

Can Someone Else Use That Paint?

If the paint is still in good condition, check around to see if someone else can make use of it.

Organizations like Habitat for Humanity and other local non-profits sometimes accept donations of paint. Community centers or places of worship might like to spruce up a room with a fresh coat of paint. Or maybe a neighbor would like it? Local freecycling or buy-nothing groups might be interested.

Some recycling events accept paint, as well. (Check the SCARCE recycling events calendar for details.) Another option is to check your local hardware store. Some stores accept paint for a small fee.

If the paint is old, or isn’t a good candidate for re-use, it’s time to dispose of that paint–the right way.

What Kind of Paint Do You Have?

There is more than one kind of paint out there.

  • Latex paint, most often used for painting your home’s walls both inside and out.
  • Oil-based paint, which can be used in homes and outdoors, is very durable. Wood trim and doors are often covered in oil-based paints.
  • Rare, but still out there, is lead paint.

Lead and oil based paints have toxic, hazardous ingredients. They need special handling. Take all oil-based and lead paints to the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facility near you. In DuPage County, it’s on Fort Hill Drive in Naperville and open Saturday and Sundays 9am-2pm. Never put oil-based paint or old lead paints in your normal trash!

Non-usable latex paint (paint that’s over 10 years old, or was frozen & thawed) can be disposed of in your curbside trash, after it’s dried. To speed up the drying process, remove the lid and add kitty litter, sawdust or even shredded paper to absorb the liquids. When the paint is completely dry, put the can, without the lid, in your garbage.  

Tips for Handling Paint

  • Only buy as much as you need. Don’t buy a gallon if you don’t need it!
  • Transfer leftover paint to glass jars and label them with the room, or walls, where they were used. Why glass jars? They are non-reactive and will help the paint stay useable for longer. Metal cans sometimes rust, especially when they are stored in a damp basement.
  • Don’t store your paint in the garage! The swing of temperature from hot summer to freezing winter will ruin your saved paint. Keep it indoors–preferably in a cool basement but not on the damp cement floor. Put it up on a shelf to keep it dry and cool.

For an upbeat review of the tips, check out this video created by SCARCE.

Are You Ready To Do Your Part?

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