The first thing most people do when they move into a new house is…paint. The first thing soon-to-be parents think of when they find out the sex of the baby is…what color to paint the room. So what do we do with all that leftover paint? It might sit in the garage or the side of the house for a period of time. But eventually, oh yes eventually, you will have to do something about it. And no, you can’t just sneak it into your trash can. Hazardous waste has no place in our landfills!

That’s right, paint, including latex paint and paint products such as thinners, is considered to be hazardous waste. And it must be disposed of as such.

First consider how to use the paint you have:

1. Only purchase the amount of paint you need. Going back for an additional can is a better option than over-buying (from both a financial and environmental cost perspective).
2. If you only have a little bit of paint left, consider storing it safely for touch-ups.
3. Offer your left-over paint to friends who are painting, community organizations, and others who might make use of it.
4. Try “Googling” paint recycling plus your city’s name. Paint recycling initiatives are popping up in cities all over the U.S.
5. Use Earth911 to find a local paint recycler.

If despite your best efforts, you still have paint to dispose of, contact your city or county’s hazardous waste department for proper instructions on disposal.

For more on green paint options see this past post: Paint it Green: Eco-Friendly Home