At the weekend I took the family down to the nearby High Town neighbourhood of Luton to help out with some community gardening. A new peace garden was being installed, and the kids helped to paint a fence and make mosaics while I picked up endless bits of broken glass from the soil. People painted dots on the fence, and at the end of the event we had a whole collection of half-used pots of paint. Anybody need some paint?
Our artist friend who was coordinating the event had already picked up the paint secondhand from another project, so it had already been reused once. But where could it go next?
I’m not sure whether a home was found in the end, I was too busy running for cover as the rain started. But there is a national network for spare paint. It’s called the Community Repaint Network, and it’s been getting leftover paint out of sheds and garages and onto walls for almost 25 years.
Paint can be dropped off at council tips, and it is collected, checked and sorted and sold on at cheap rates. Community groups, charities and artists can buy what they need from a network of reused paint shops. It provides cheap paint for community projects, and it reduces the amount of paint thrown away every year – a messy 55 million litres in Britain. More recently, the network has branched out into remanufacturing too. Two of its centres are able to reprocess paint and sell it to order, making it a circular economy initiative too.
We don’t have a Community Repaint depot anywhere near us, but there are loads of them around the country. Have a look at the website to see if there’s one near you.