A fresh coat of paint is an easy way to freshen up your home. Here are 7 tips to make your next painting project a little greener.
Choose a water-based, latex paint
Using water-based paints eliminates the need for solvents. Oil-based products typically require the use of thinner or other solvents for cleaning. Solvents can be flammable and toxic, and should never be thrown away, poured down the drain or dumped on the ground. For more information on proper disposal of solvents, see Rethink Recycling's information on paint thinner and solvents.
Consider buying local, recycled-content latex paint
Recycled-content paint is created from the latex paint dropped off at household hazardous waste facilities.
Look for free paint before you buy
All household hazardous waste facilities offer good, used paint in their free product reuse area. If you find paint that suits your project, it's yours for the taking! Find your local household hazardous waste facility on the MPCA website.
Buy "low-VOC" or "no-VOC" paint
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals that off-gas from products at room temperature. VOCs have been shown to cause cancer or developmental problems. Paint is now available that is low- or no-VOC. Ask for it at your local paint retailer.
Buy only what you need
In 2011, 640,000 gallons of paint was collected at Minnesota's household hazardous waste sites — enough to fill 120,000 semi trailers! Before you start your project, calculate how much paint to buy using this online paint calculator. You can also use this rule of thumb: Purchase one gallon of paint for every 400 square feet of area to paint. Ask your paint retailer for additional help.
Store paint carefully
Leftover paint can last for years if it is well-sealed and stored in an appropriate location. Save money and keep leftover paint for touch-up jobs or smaller projects by following these storage tips:
- Keep leftover paint in the original container, with a tight lid on it. Cover the opening of the paint can with plastic wrap before closing the lid. This will help create an additional seal when the can is closed.
- Leave the original label on the paint can. For future identification, also write the date opened and room/item you used it for on the lid.
- Use a rubber mallet to close the can for a better seal. Hammers can dent and bend the rim of the paint can; mallets are gentler. Use a small towel over the lid to help absorb impact.
- Store paint in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area. Avoid fluctuating temperatures, especially near furnaces and direct sunlight. Don't let your paint freeze.
Recycle your extra paint
Don't throw liquid paint in the garbage or pour it down the drain. Take extra or unusable paint to your local household hazardous waste facility.
If there is less than one inch of paint left, let the paint dry out in a well-ventilated area before it is put in the garbage. And it's okay to throw away empty paint cans.