One Green Thing: Should it be ‘reuse, recycle or dispose’ with paint?

By Jan Herbert
Rockford Park District

Whether you were “green” before the color was fashionable or whether you’re just ready to find the “shade” that works best for you, here’s information about doing just “one green thing.”

Just look around … almost all of us have some leftover paint cans. You want to be conscientious about the disposal, so what should you do?

Before buying, try to buy the right amount for the job. Measure your walls; multiply length times width and use the rule of thumb of 1 gallon covering 350 square feet (one coat).

When the job is done, you’ll want to store the small amount of leftover for touchups. Cover the can with plastic wrap, secure the lid, and turn the can upside down for storage. Place where it won’t get hot or freeze, and of course, out of reach of kids and pets. Label so you know what room was painted with it.

If you “over-estimated” your need, you can mix latex paints for a “just needs some paint” project, such as a garage or workroom. Mixing dark colors probably won’t be very successful. You could donate the paint toward a community painting project.

If you must dispose of it, latex paints are not considered hazardous waste, so you can pour the paint into a box with shredded paper, allowing it to solidify. It can then be discarded and the can recycled. Empty cans can usually be recycled with other metals (check with your waste hauler). Or go to for the nearest place to recycle.

If you are unsure of what you have, disposal at a hazardous material collection point or at a community day is your best bet. Call your municipality for recommendations.

For more information, e-mail Jan Herbert at

From the June 20-26, 2012, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!