It's always a good idea, both economically and environmentally, to accurately gauge just how much paint any given project will take. When painting with a custom color, painters may err on the side of having a bit too much, because paint mixed in different batches will inevitably not be an exact match. Leftover paint, if sealed properly, can be stored for many years. Latex paint in its liquid, wet form cannot be thrown out, even though it is not considered hazardous material by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Depending upon where you live, you may find a source that will take your unused latex paint donation.

Tightly seal the paint can and ensure that the original manufacturer's label is intact and legible. Dab a swatch of the color on the lid for easy color identification.

Call local schools or churches in your community and ask if they accept latex paint donations. Non-profit or budget-restricted programs and organizations will often put your used latex paint to good use. Call your local theater group and ask if they can use the paint for set decorating. Many have needs for multiple colors of paint for their large sets. Some disaster relief programs, such as Mercy Corps, will accept large quantities of unopened latex paint for rebuilding efforts in which they participate.

Organize your own neighborhood paint swap. Create an ad online or in community bulletin boards. Invite your neighbors, friends and family to participate and to bring their own leftover paint. Accept only latex and solvent-based paints in original containers with legible, intact labels. Ask neighbors to bring only latex paints that have not been frozen, dirtied or contaminated. Exchange containers that are filled at least one-third of the way to ensure equal swaps.

Tip

  • Paint that is not donated to an organization or exchange may be accepted at your local hazardous-waste collection site for recycling.