Paint your house, but not our streams and rivers! It’s that time of year to put a fresh coat of paint on your house, but there are dangerous materials in both any old paint that needs to be scraped off and the new paint that will go on. Whether you’re hiring professionals to do the work or doing-it-yourself, take measures to keep paint from getting on the ground where it can be washed into storm drains.


If you’re doing the work yourself:
  1. Be sure to use tarps to collect scraped paint and dispose of it in an area landfill.
  2. Use latex rather than oil-based paints, and select a low-toxic paint whenever possible (see below).
  3. Avoid buying too much paint, and safely store or dispose of any leftover paint. The Habitat for Humanity ReStore accepts household paints that meet certain criteria and local Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) centers (see below) also accept household paint for reuse or safe disposal.
  4. Clean up any paint spills as completely as feasible; take large quantities of unusable paint to your local HHW center.
  5. Brush, squeeze and drain as much paint as possible from brushes, rollers, trays and other equipment back into the paint containers before cleaning the equipment; clean all painting equipment in sinks which are connected to the sanitary sewer system and treatment plant rather than outdoors.


If you’re hiring a painting company, ask the ones you’re considering about their clean-up and disposal practices. Select the company that demonstrates the highest commitment to ecologically responsible work and specify the paint you’ve chosen.
Want to learn more? Learn about the hazards of conventional paints and greener options from Green America.

Storm drains are intended to funnel rainfall and snowmelt to area creeks, streams and rivers and are not connected to the wastewater treatment plant. That means any litter, pet waste, chemicals and other pollutants that end up on the ground instead of being safely disposed of are likely to flow, untreated, into our waters, including the Kaw and Missouri Rivers. Some will flow on eastward to join with the Mississippi River, eventually dumping into the Gulf of Mexico.