What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

– mostly-used, dried up cans of stains and paint

on January 14, 2017

Today was not a good day for my mitigation of climate change.

As we renovate Casa de WIST, our policy is to purchase and use low-VOC (volatile organic compound) finishes as much as possible. But we have quite a few oil-based products around nevertheless. A handful have been allowed because I believe they actually will have less impact (better, for instance, to repaint and continue to use the tubs than replace them). Some I bought long ago before it was widely understood that even the “consumer” segment of the solvents market has a measurable impact on air quality and greenhouse gases. Many were acquired by my father over his decades of do-it-himselfing. Not a few we inherited from previous owners of our house, who kindly left them behind just in case we might need them.

I’ve been able to dispose of some of this unwanted wealth at municipal household hazardous waste collections. But that mostly just kicks the disposal problem down the road. The best recourse generally is to use them up, while committing to water-based products in the future.

So … Nimue and I have been rebuilding a bath sink cabinet we pulled from the upstairs bathroom into a sort of miniature sideboard we’ll use in the kitchen-dining room. For eventual ease of wiping down, we decided to apply sealant to the inside. We didn’t care much what it looked like—most of the time it will be dark in there—so we thought we might mix odd bits of stain-sealer and have enough to do the job.

But when she opened the first can, Nimue found that a thick skin had formed on top of what remained of “Antique Walnut” and the material under it was thick as sludge. “Colonial Pine” was a goner, too. The couple of pints left in the gallon of sanding sealer had turned the consistency of yogurt. And the sealing primer I used on the floor in the bathroom today looked and felt like large-curd cottage cheese. I suppose that too much time and exposure to air (just that inside the closed cans) made them useless.

I had to leave the cans open to the atmosphere so the remaining contents will dry to a hard, inert state. Then I can take them to the construction-and-demolition landfill. But I hate to do it.

Past choices frame present options. That’s much on my mind these days as I hear and ponder the news from Washington and the world and watch the grey squirrels chase one another in the strange summer the southeastern US is having in January. My hope lies in trusting that we can learn to make better choices today, so what used to be called the “common weal” shall thrive in the future.

shedding style: throw away
destination: C&D landfill

Comments welcome … with appreciation for the sly wit and social commentary of Mick and Keith … shall we agree to not “Paint It Black” after all?


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