Earth Month Part 4: Paint!

April is Earth Month!  To help us get in the spirit of sustainability, Anna Dunbar, Recycling and Public Outreach Administrator for the City of Waco Solid Waste Services, shares some tips, expertise and hopes for our community in a series of four blog posts.  For all the posts so far, click here.  Thanks for writing, Anna! – ABT

By Anna Dunbar

Painting is a relatively inexpensive way to update a room. It seems that every DIY show starts with picking colors and repainting (or doing a faux finish painted walls). Then, the question is, what to do with all of the leftover paint?


Most people think of the garage as the place to store paints. The problem with that idea is that paints typically become unusable when exposed to extreme hot or cold temperatures. This is especially true of latex paint. So, store your paint in the house or in an insulated cabinet in the garage. To seal the can, place plastic wrap over the paint lid and hammer it down. Some recommend storing the can upside down but I personally have not had the nerve to do that!

Think before you toss and try to donate it.

In Waco, try the Habitat for Humanity ReStore if you have unopened, usable latex paint with readable labels. Learn more at or call (254) 756-0131. Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a great place and if you are doing a painting job you should start there! The store usually has  a great paint selection.

Schools, religious groups, community groups, and theater groups may accept unopened cans of latex paint, especially white paint. Even a neighbor may need some extra paint.  Remember, if your paint is lumpy or smells bad, it should not be donated.

Dry it out before you throw it away.
When you cannot use up or donate leftover paint, dry it out and dispose of it with your regular trash. All residual/leftover paint must be hardened or dried before putting in your trash.

If there’s only a small amount of paint in the bottom of the can, leaving it out in the sun should do the trick. If there’s a bit more, mulch, kitty litter, or shredded newspaper can be used as a bulking/drying agent. If you are in a hurry, buy some commercial paint hardener such as Waste Paint HardenerTM or a similar product to dry paint quickly. This product is available at many paint and hardware stores. When mixed with paint as directed, it will dry even large amounts within a couple of days. A paint can with totally dried paint (no liquid) can be put in a bag with your regular trash.

Take larger quantities of paint to Household Hazardous Waste Day.

As I mentioned last week, if you are a resident of Waco, Hewitt, Lacy Lakeview, Lorena or Woodway, you can save paints, auto fluids and other hazardous stuff for Household Hazardous Waste Day on May 6. The event is from 7 AM until 1:30 PM at 501 Schroeder Drive, which is the Waco Solid Waste Operations Center.  It is near the Baylor elevated water storage tank. When you arrive you may need to wait in line. Have your water bill from your city of residence and your driver’s license at the ready. You will need that for proof of residency.

Paint makes up most of what is brought to Household Hazardous Waste Day! In 2015, we collected 85,387 pounds of paint and in 2016, we collected 31,285 pounds of paint. I am grateful that so many people are willing to do the right thing and dispose of paint properly. Still have questions? Please call Waco Solid Waste Services at (254) 299-2612 or email me at [email protected]

This week’s Act Locally Waco blog post is by Anna Dunbar. Anna is the Operations Administrator for the City of Waco Public Works. She is responsible for informing Waco residents and businesses about recycling and waste reduction opportunities as well as solid waste services in Waco. Her husband is a Baylor professor and her daughter is a graduate student at Baylor University. She is president of the board of Keep Waco Beautiful and is a member of The Central Texas Audubon Society and Northwest Waco Rotary. If you would be interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco blog, please email [email protected] 

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