Don't paint yourself into a corner with VOCs

In yesterday's GreenSpace column, I wrote about how to make your next painting project a greener one, no matter what color you slather on the walls.

Aside from the issue of volatile organic compounds, the problem of what to do with leftover paint is particularly stubborn.  If you're like me, you figure you might need the excess paint for tough-ups. Or, at the very minimum, it's a resource that you just can't justify tossing, right?

So in the basement it sits. Getting old and useless. Until one day you take on the project of drying it all out and tossing it. Or taking the oil-based paint to a household hazardous waste event.

A friend of mine is outraged that so few of those events are held.  So he's come up with a better idea: Make the paint stores take back the excess paint.

I love it! If Staples is taking back used printer ink cartridges -- just one example of many take-backs -- what a great idea for paint stores to do the same. They could mix similar products and similar colors together in, say, a five-gallon bucket and offer it to a church or a school or a shelter or other nonprofit.

Meanwhile, for those who want more information:

Here's an article by Brent Erhlich about greener paints. "There is still a lot of hype, greenwashing and labeling confusion out there," he writes, "but there are also tools that can help find environmentally responsible paints that meet your needs."

Here's the EPA's site on remodeling and indoor air quality.

Here are tips from the Paint Quality Institute.

And, finally, the Federal Trade Commission's announcement about the settlement with Sherwin-Williams and PPG.