Ways to recycle and reuse paint

1. Buy the right amount of paint.

It sounds simple, but if you buy the right amount of paint, you won't have any unused paint to deal with after the paint job is done! Berry calls it "precycling." Measure your walls, and multiply length x height to estimate the square footage (don't forget to subtract for doors and windows). A gallon of paint will cover about 350 square feet with a single coat of paint, according to

2. Store unused paint.

Paint Care recommends covering the paint can's mouth with plastic wrap, tightly securing the lid, then turning the leak-proof can upside down for storage. Store paint in a place that is out of reach for children and pets, and that won't get too hot, and won't freeze. Remember to label your paints so you know which room each can corresponds to.

3. Mix and reuse latex paints.

Latex paints can be blended and used, though don't expect an aesthetically pleasing hue! Still, for base coats and functional paint jobs, this is an economical and environmentally friendly way to reuse old paint. Berry also recommends checking with local waste haulers, municipalities and schools; many have programs to collect paints, blend them and use them on community projects. "We shouldn't look at how to recycle first, but who can use this next," she said.

4. Recycle empty paint cans.

If you've emptied a can of paint, let the residue air dry, then recycle the can with other metals. Check with your waste hauler, first, but many community recycling programs accept paint cans this way, Berry said.

5. Dispose of oil paints as hazardous waste.

For oil-based paints, the best option for disposal is a local Household Hazardous Waste facility. Some communities offer year-round access to these waste-handling services, but others offer drop-off days only once or twice a year. Check with your municipality or waste hauler for details, or plug in your zip code at's recycling center locator or call 1-800-CLEANUP (1-800-253-2687). Paint Care cautions that "air-drying of liquid alkyd or oil based paint is not considered safe."

6. Toss latex paint in the trash, but recycle the cans.

Unlike oil paints, latex paints aren't considered hazardous waste. If you have leftover latex paints that can't be recycled, reused or stored, pour the paints into a box with shredded paper or kitty litter, allow it to solidify away from kids or pets, then discard in the trash. Recycle empty paint cans with other metals. If dried paint fills a can to a depth of about a half inch or less, dry it in the can and recycle the paint can. If you have a more-or-less full can of dried latex paint, unfortunately, the next step is to remove the lid and toss the whole can in with the trash.

If these options are not available to you here are some ways to use your paint and paint cans

*Let your kids decorate them and use them for a piggy bank

*Poke holes in them using a drill, insert a light or candle and use them as an outdoor lantern.

*Use grout and stone and make your own flower pot.

*Glue together, line with fabric and use as organizers for garden tools, kitchen utensils or for parties.

*Fill with wax and a wick and make your own candle.

*Places to donate old paint: Local Boy scouts groups, fire departments, are teachers, non-profits, salvation army, high school or theatre groups, and to military or prisons.