Keeping paint out of the landfill is easier than you may think. Here’s how.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that 64 million gallons of paint are thrown out annually in the U.S. That’s enough paint to cover millions of babies’ rooms and fill up millions of “honey-do” lists this Saturday.

Keeping paint out of the landfill is easier than you may think. Here’s how.

1 Use it for a future project
Paint lasts for years if stored properly. The Learning Channel Online suggests the following steps for proper paint storage: Cover the paint can opening with plastic wrap. Secure the lid. Allow the paint to create its own seal by turning it upside down (make sure the lid’s on tight). Store the can upside down, away from kids and away from freezing temperatures.

2 Dispose of it properly
Ideally, you’ll find a way to use extra paint. Sometimes, however, it’s just not possible. If there’s less than an inch of paint left in the can, remove the lid and set it outside to dry. Recycle the can once the paint dries. If the can contains more than an inch, you can take it to a paint recycling center or pour the contents into a paint-absorbent material and recycle the can.

3 Recycling centers
You can find paint recycling centers in most major American cities. Websites such as Earth911.com will help you locate where to take unused paint for recycling. Oil-based paints, because they are considered hazardous waste, can’t be recycled and must be disposed of at a hazardous waste center. Never pour paint into storm drains; set it out for trash pickup or burn it.

4 Plan well
The easiest way to keep paint out of landfills is to plan properly. Buy the right amount of paint. Measure how much paint you’ll need for the next project and buy accordingly. Your local paint supplier will be happy to help. If you’re not sure, buy the lesser amount and go back to the paint store, if necessary. This strategy will also save you money. Once the paint is mixed, most stores won’t take it back.

5 Donate it
Myriad organizations exist that would gladly take your paint. They include local schools, graffiti cleanup groups, religious groups, community groups and local theaters.

Another way to ?preserve paint

Creating a vacuum-tight seal to reduce skinning and prolong the life of leftover finish is easy if you use this tip from Burke Barrows of Tonawanda, N.Y. He puts the can inside a plastic bag and loosely sets the can lid in place. Then he wraps the bag around the end of a shop vacuum hose to create an air-tight seal. He turns on the vacuum and taps the lid into place with a mallet.

— By Sherry Phillips, ?American Profile