Make your painting projects eco-friendly

Easy tips to keep your painting projects green

By Anna Simmons

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These days, green paint is more than just a blend of blue and yellow sold under a flowery name such as subtle sage. Thanks to new paint technology and environmental programs, it’s becoming much easier to go eco with your painting projects.


Be accurate with your measurements and only buy as much paint as you need. Before going to the paint store, measure the perimeter of your room and multiply that by the height of the ceiling to get the total wall area. Then subtract the area of any windows and doors to get the total paintable area. So in a 12′ x 10′ room with an 8′ ceiling and a 32-sq.-ft. window and a 20-sq.-ft. door opening, there is a total paintable area of 300 sq. ft. Double this measurement if two coats are required. While the average gallon of paint covers 400 sq. ft., there can be quite a bit of variability depending on the paint product, with a range of 350 to 550 sq. ft. of coverage per gallon. Most paint stores are happy to help calculate the amount of paint you’ll need based on your measurements and the product specifications.

Also ask if a self-priming product is suitable for your project. Several companies now offer paints that you can apply directly to bare wood, drywall or bright colours–saving you both material and time.


Properly stored paint can be reused in the future for touch-ups or small household projects. Ensure the lid is sealed securely, and store the container at room temperature. If the can is less than half-full, transfer the paint into a smaller container, such as a mason jar, to help extend its usability. Paint thinner can also be reused after cleaning brushes coated with alkyd-based (also known as oil-based) paint. Just allow the thinner to settle afterwards. The alkyd paint resins will sink to the bottom of the container and you can reuse the “clean” paint thinner at the top.


If you have extra paint that you can’t use, consider donating it. Those leftovers could be put to good use by community organizations, churches and other groups. Many municipalities have specialized waste depots where you can bring unwanted paint, and some offer paint recycling programs. Check with your local recycling centre to see if they will accept empty latex paint cans in the blue box collection. Many will as long as the cans are clean or any paint residue has dried up.

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