Who doesn’t like a makeover?
Finding the perfect piece of furniture at a yard sale or thrift store can help you make over your house and furnishings, saving money and reducing waste at the same time. Often all that’s needed to renew something is a good cleaning and a new coat of paint, the only cost being your time.
But wait a minute, you say, paint is expensive.
It doesn’t have to be.
Gallons and gallons of latex and oil-based paints never get used, probably because we’ve been told to always get extra so we won’t run out in the middle and have to worry about matching the color (custom colors mostly). Many small jobs use less than a small can’s worth of paint, and yet we can only buy a full can, not just a tiny bit.
The next time you need paint or thinner, wood stain or oil finish, don’t buy new.
Find out if your city or county has a Drop and Swap program, which reduces waste locally, as well as helping to keep it out of drains and sinks (and rivers).
Don’t look at me like that. I’m sure you know people who pour things down the drain “just to get rid of it”.
Drop and Swap programs generally accept partially-used and new containers of paint, thinner, stain, cleaners, automotive chemicals, and other household products and then store them for exchange days or dispose of them properly. You can donate that collection of random paint from your mother’s garage, or your basement, and you can go shopping in the storeroom for what you need. In order to participate, all that is required is your signature, agreeing to use the products as directed and to dispose of them properly or bring them back when you’re done.
I walked out of there one day with enough wood finish and stain to last me for the next year, and if I didn’t like something, I brought it back with me on my next trip. I also recently found 2 quarts of linseed oil that sell for big bucks over at the hardware store, and some cans of spray paint primer to paint a bike frame with. Score!
Our local Drop and Swap is at the county landfill, next to the recycling center and hazardous materials center. If you’re headed there anyway, ask about their programs for disposal and reuse of household chemicals. You may find a source of materials for your next project, or you may find materials that just need a good project.
When my wife and (then) baby daughter went to see family for a week, I found some pints of really cool paint at the Drop and Swap. One lonely night I decided to re-finish a stepstool as a surprise for them, inspired by the colors of paint I found. I re-glued and re-nailed the top, sanded it and gave it three coats of paint, and we still use it every single day, ten years later.
I think it’s our first heirloom.
More posts about painting choices:
- Painting the Baby’s Nursery: Get the Toxic VOCs Out : Eco Child’s Play
- Safer Renovation Choices (Paints, Finishes, Carpet Washes and More) : Eco Child’s Play
- Giving Crafts a Fresh Coat of Milk Paint : Crafting a Green World
Image: geishaboy500 on Flickr under Creative Commons license
In these days where conservation and recycling are paramount, this is a fabulous idea!! I live in a small town where it’s like pulling teeth to seed a new idea. But I’m going to give this swap idea a big push! Thanks so much for posting this. You’re a recycling hero!
Greene Onion says
I’m going to check this out on Monday – see if my county has such a program. I’m really needing to do some painting this fall, but I’m doing a Buy Nothing Challenge, so getting supplies right now is a problem. This may be my solution!
Jennifer Lance says
Our recycling center has buckets and buckets of paint! It has a huge selection.
This is a great idea! My last round of house painting left me with several left over gallons. Fortunately, someone on FreeCycle wanted it but next time I’ll be looking for a sharing center like these!