Paint cans are harming environment

For almost two decades I have regularly walked the roads and hiked areas nearby my home.  I am seldom without something to collect trash found along the way and recycle items which can be recycled.  I know that sometimes items accidentally bounce out of vehicles and are not always intentionally thrown out of windows.  I’ve observed that there is usually a seasonal increase in “collectibles” when hunting and fishing seasons are in full swing.  On a recent morning walk I was surprised to find this collection of paint cans along a seldom traveled road.
Clearly, they did not accidentally bounce out of a vehicle.
Old paint is not something which our sanitation service will pick up nor is there a service for recycling old paint in our area.  Some paint companies in some states do provide that service, but in our area, it is the individual’s responsibility for properly disposing of old paint.  Burying a partially full can of liquid paint in the middle of your household trash bag can be damaging to trash trucks and not an appropriate way to dispose of paint.  Leaving it on the side of the road is NOT the proper way of disposing of paint.  We loaded the cans and brought them home and over the next few weeks, as weather allows, I’ll be working to dry out the paint in the cans to allow for proper disposal.  As it tuns out all of the paint was water based.  Here’s the recommended way of disposing of latex or water-based paint if you can’t use it up or offer it to someone else with a painting project:
•    Dry it up.
•    For small amounts place in safe location, remove lids, allow to dry. Once dry recycle the can.
•    For larger amounts of paint, place a cardboard box in a safe place away from pets and children and line it with a trash bag. Pour paint into the box and add a drying agent such as kitty litter, sand, saw dust or shredded paper.  Once the paint is completely dry, place the trash bag into your trash container.
•    Recycle the paint can and cardboard box.
Some paints are considered hazardous and cannot be placed in your trash, but must go to a household hazardous waste collection site.  Paint is hazardous if it is oil-based, listed as mildew resistant or a preservative, or is more than 20 years old because it may contain lead.  For a list of locations for disposing of household hazardous waste look online for listings in the Birmingham/Tuscaloosa area aeconline.org/  or in the Huntsville area swdahsv.org/hazardous/.  Not particularly convenient, but if you care about our water and the world around us now and in the future, it is worth the effort.
So, whether it is plastic, paint, or puppies, leaving them on the road side is NEVER the right thing to do.  Happy New Year and may you do the right thing in 2020!

Betty Denton
Houston

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