As artists and creatives, we need to come together as a community and work together. There is a lot that you can do – no matter who you are or where you are. Spread the word and become part of The Aerosol Alliance movement. Here are three tips on what YOU can do.
01. Dispose of your spray cans properly
We all know how hard it can be sometimes: recycling. But it is one of the most crucial steps you can take as an artist. Fulfilling this duty makes you a true ally of the Aerosol Alliance: disposing of your waste at the right place.
Taking your cans to the recycling facility is the best option. Your local recycler will either send the spray to ‘chemical waste’ or ‘recycle the cans directly’ or ‘incinerate’ them. This is dependent on the situation of how the local waste program treats spray paint on a municipal level. More technologically advanced nations and countries will have the capacity and technology to recycle cans properly.
“Empty aerosol spray cans from paint, hair spray, shaving cream and cooking spray can be recycled in most local recycling programs. Aerosol spray cans that are full or partly full must be dropped off at a hazardous waste location.” 
Tips for recycling
- Taking your cans home and bringing them to the waste treatment facility is the best option.
- If there is no other alternative or option, make sure to dispose of your spray cans and caps in a trash bin. This is the second-best option.
- If possible put your dirty caps in the plastic recycling bin.
We have found some great additional tips via Recycle Coach. Please read their “5 Tips on how to recycle aerosol cans.”
Avoid dumping your cans!
By all means, avoid disposing or dumping your spray cans in nature. Leaving them on the spot is obviously not smart. But also polluting! It will leave the metal cans to rust and over time they can start leaking, emitting remaining fumes and other emissions during the process. Paint remains leaking into nature will have a toxicological effect on the environment [2,3].
02. Use bucket paint or latex
The environmental impact of ‘regular’ latex or bucket paint is significantly lower compared to spray paint. We hope that all paint suppliers will be able to provide more accurate numbers in the future. However, we don’t need the exact figures now to know that there’s a big difference between the environmental impact of (acrylic) spray paint and latex.
It has been mentioned often as the key difference between oil-based and acrylic or solvent-based paints. The amount of VOCs that are released by water-based latex paint during drying and application is considerably smaller compared to spray paint. So the next time you are doing a full-color burner. Why not try and make a multi-color latex filling instead of using only spray paint? [4,5]
For larger murals using latex also helps to cover more area of the wall, while using less paint. All in all saving a lot of material usage. Not only are you doing less harm to the environment... It is good for your wallet too!
03. Try out water-based paint
You might know this already but similar to latex paint there are also water-based spray paints available. In general, they are more expensive compared to regular spray paint and not all spray paint manufacturers have them in their product portfolio. However, they are significantly better for the environment.
This has two main reasons:
- They produce low amounts or zero VOC emissions during the use phase.
- Water-based paint do not use chemical solvents (which are mostly fossil-based), because the solvent in water-based paint is? Yes, exactly simply water.
Our advice: the newer types of spray paints which are water-based, release fewer harmful VOC emissions compared to acrylic or oil based spray paint. Use water-based paint if you can!
Overall, the next time you go out and paint. Consider these three options mentioned earlier.
- Dispose of your cans properly
- Use bucket paint or latex
- Try out water-based paint.
We don’t promote any products but just want to provide you with hints to paint more environmentally conscious and safely.
We are always curious for better references, preferably scientific papers that support the arguments we pose. Have you read a cool and useful article? Share it with us :)