Monday, September 21, 2009

The Great Paint Exchange

Twice a year, our city's public works department holds an event called the Great Paint Exchange. This basically is an event for people to dispose of unused paint, as well as for others to go and obtain free paint. It takes place in the first public works building in the country to earn a LEED Gold rating.

It's really a simple idea. In the morning, people are invited to come turn in all those partially-filled paint cans sitting in their garage or basement. Since latex paint in liquid form can pose environmental contamination issues if thrown into a landfill, this gives people a way to responsibly get rid of their old paint. It's also an excuse for people like me who have far too much paint "collected" from too many projects.

After the 2-hour drop-off window closes, the Public Works people go through all the cans and decide which paint is salvageable. They then reopen the doors in the afternoon allowing anyone to come by and pick up cans of paint - for free!

This is a great example of something that has triple bottom line benefits - helping people, the planet (by diverting waste), and profit (free paint). I wish every city was this proactive and offered these kind of services. Maybe you can talk your city into hosting one! As for me personally, I was happy to be donating 9 cans of paint to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it. And it was a great excuse to carve out some shelf space in the basement.