You have completed your do it yourself painting project and your home has a new, fresh look and feel. You are thinking that the work was well worth the end result as you stand and look around. Then you notice the almost empty cans of remaining paint. Disposing of unwanted paint after the job is done can be a perplexing situation. Just pouring the paint out would not be not be a very responsible thing to do as it is very harmful to the environment, not to mention it is an illegal thing to do. The paint will get into the storm and sewer drains and will eventually contaminate the water system. When you clean your paint tools it is better to do this inside rather than washing the paint from the tools into the ground that will eventually end up in the drainage system polluting our water sources. Eco friendly painting is also about disposing of the waste paint in a responsible way.
Why is paint so harmful to the environment? Part of the ingredients in water based paint is solid pigments that will make the water cloudy or muddy by adding particles that create sediment in the water. This sediment is really harmful to fish and will clog their gills and stop them from being able to breathe. When the sediment gets bad enough from pollution in the water, the murky water blocks the sunlight and this means that the photosynthesis process of the plants in the water is damaged. Healthy foliage in the water is essential to the health of all the inhabitants of the water. Other ingredients in paints are substances that are biodegradable. As these substances break down in the water, the fish and plant life begin to die off.
Paint that is solvent based has several compounds and organic solvents. These are like oil to water and will not mix easily. Eventually they will mix with the water and when they do they will take oxygen away from the plant life. Paint that is solvent based has harmful environmental ingredients like zinc, chromium, mercury and lead. This kind of heavy metal sediment is pure poison in the water system. There are ingredients in solvent based paint they are toxic to water organisms and fish and can cause tumors to form in the fish. That is not good eating for us!
When you are cleaning your paint rollers and brushes after painting with a water based paint it is best to squeeze as much of the unused paint back into the paint cans. There is a tool designed for doing this with your paint roller to make it easier. Then you can fill a five gallon bucket or empty container with water and wash your brushes and rollers in this until most of the paint is gone. After this water sits for a while, the paint residue will settle in the bottom of the container and then it can be disposed of as a solid waste like the paint left in the paint cans. To cut down on the cleaning process you can put your roller in big plastic bags to keep them fresh until the next use. It is a lot easier and will save the environment as well. Your local solid waste disposal plant will have their own guidelines about disposing of the unwanted paint.