A Surprising Obstacle to Recycling Paint

The questions were simple:

  • Do you know you can recycle paint?
  • Do you do it?
  • Why or why not?

But when we asked Leo, a middle-aged man who had just finished painting his house, the answers were more complicated.

Leo had heard he could recycle paint. He wasn’t doing it, though, because he had also heard that he would need to show identification and pay a fee — two things in short supply. So he stacked all the paint in his garage and stopped thinking about it.

Recently our friends at PaintCare, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing paint recycling, asked us to conduct a survey to figure out what Latinos thought about properly disposing of their unused paint. We sent a team of surveyors out to Latino communities in Santa Ana, Los Angeles, Riverside, Ontario, Chino, Riverside, San Francisco, San Jose and Westminster in California as well as Denver and Thornton in Colorado.

What we found surprised us. A whopping 77% of Latinos surveyed kept their leftover paint in storage. An even larger 79% were unaware of the many locations that accept unused paint. (Check out PaintCare’s location finder and see for yourself.) And nearly every person surveyed was just like Leo. They believed that an ID and fee would be required to recycle paint. For the record, dropping off unused paint at one of the PaintCare locations is both free and anonymous.

Armed with data on the attitudes and beliefs of the Latino community, we’re ready for action. Our next step? To create a pilot program to educate and inspire Latinos to get that paint out of their garages. Stay tuned…

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