What You'll Learn

    Little ways to go green in your...
  5. Entry, Basement & Laundry
  6. Living Area
4. Eat your leftover take-out. Then save the plastic containers it came in—which can't be recycled in most municipal waste systems—and use them to organize your nails, screws, and leftover paints. Not only does their tight seal help preserve solvents, but the see-through containers stack neatly and display contents clearly. For added strength, double up the thin ones.

5. Save used paint thinner. After cleaning oil-based finishes from brushes and tools, allow the dirty solvent to sit overnight. The sludge will settle to the bottom of the jar, leaving a layer of clear thinner on top. Carefully decant the clear thinner into a clean jar, and reseal it for future use. Be sure to dispose of the leftover sludge at a hazardous-waste-disposal site—never down a sink drain or into a street gutter.

6. Mix it up in the garage. Combine all those cans of leftover white paint that inevitably collect after you decorate the house and use them to paint the garage or workshop. (Make sure only to mix latex with latex and oils with oils.) You'll keep the stuff out of the trash, and by adding the semi-glosses to the flats and eggshells, you'll end up with a sheen that's easy to clean.

7. Turn things on their heads. Store paint cans upside down so the solvents—which separate and rise to the top—get trapped under the bottom of the can. Not only will paint last longer, but solvents won't be able to slowly seep out through the lid this way.

8. Take charge of your charges. Invest in an inexpensive battery tester, then set up a "battery center" where you can store new cells, check used ones for power, and set aside those that have burned out and have to be recycled. A designated collection spot will deter you from throwing bad batteries in the garbage. Once or twice a year, you just take the pile to your town's recycling center.
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