Paint can be dangerous both for the environment and to human health, and can create a lot of extra work for UCSB’s custodial staff when disposed improperly. Oil-based paints or paints that emit a lot of VOCs (volatile organic compounds– basically those with a strong paint smell) create a great deal of indoor air pollution when used and even while stored in office cabinets or closets, and will ruin brushes unless cleaned with toxic solvents. Oil-based and latex paints also harm waterways and landfills. Oil, latex, and other high-VOC paints must be disposed of as hazardous waste with UCSB’s Environmental Health and Safety or with A.S. Recycling. Water-based paint is much safer to store and brushes can be rinsed with water. Acrylic, tempera, and “washable” paints are all water based.
What you should do:
Check labels before purchasing to make sure that your paint is low or no-VOC and water-based, or stick to tempera and acrylic paints to be safe. Water-based paints can be safely rinsed down a bathroom drain, but excess paint often sticks in sink drains and creates a lot of work for our custodial staff. Flush excess paint (again, water-based ONLY) down the toilet which has a larger pipe, and use the sink ONLY to rinse brushes or containers. Use a lot of water when rinsing to make sure everything is flushed out of the drain. If you have clean paint still in the bottle that you would like to donate or recycle, contact A.S. Recycling.