Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley is thinking beyond green on this Earth Day. It's also thinking colonial blue, brick red and white eggshell.
The nonprofit organization has teamed with a Denver company to try to make an ecological difference by recycling and selling latex paint.
Habitat's ReStore in Glenwood Springs is collecting latex paint at its warehouse during regular business hours for $4 per gallon and providing it to Denver-based GreenSheen. The 3-year-old company processes the paint and turns it into a low-priced, reclaimed paint. The ReStore is one of about 20 outlets that sells the paint.
"It's so in line with our ReStore mission," said Habitat of the Roaring Fork President Scott Gilbert. The motto for the organization is "Buy green, save green so we can build green," he said.
The Glenwood Springs ReStore started selling GreenSheen this winter and sold about 300 gallons as of early April, Gilbert said. The store stocks about 200 gallons of the paint, which comes in 12 basic colors, and it can easily tackle special, bulk orders.
Gilbert said he sees huge potential in both collecting old latex paint and selling GreenSheen in the Roaring Fork Valley, where property maintenance is such booming business.
One challenge is getting consumers to trust a recycled paint, acknowledged Kevin Callahan, founder and owner of GreenSheen. It's a challenge he's faced plenty of times.
"The number one thing is, take it home and use it," Callahan said. "If you like it, come back and buy it again. Use the product and find out for yourself."
If a consumer doesn't like it, Callahan will refund their money. He has sold several hundred thousands gallons of paint and never been asked for a refund, he said.
Callahan said at least 40 percent of the paint his company collects was never previously opened. Often times, the people recycling paint are homeowners who undertook a painting project and bought too much. They might buy 15 gallons but find they only need 12. They want to get the leftovers off their hands without waiting for their local government to host a hazardous waste collection at the landfill.
All the paint collected by GreenSheen is screened to make sure it didn't freeze, it isn't too old or somehow else doesn't meet their criteria. The paint is mixed and processed and, Callahan claimed, comes out as good as what a consumer can buy on the shelves of a hardware or paint store. "It is the exact same paint," he said.
Habitat Roaring Fork Valley didn't just take Callahan's word for it. Gilbert placed intern Ben Nikkel in charge of setting up ReStore's latex paint collection and the marketing of GreenSheen paint. Nikkel checked the standards of GreenSheen as part of his duties and found that it meets the standards established by Green Seal, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that certifies products and businesses on sustainability and eco-friendly criteria. The organization's GS-43 standard is the standard for recycled paint. Callahan said his product exceeds those standards.
It's also attractive because it's about 60 percent of the cost of the average retail paint, Callahan said. GreenSheen retails for $12.50 per gallon for colors and $15 for white.
Allen Murr, owner of Eagle Eye Remodeling in Denver, said he has used GreenSheen on projects for nearly two years. "We really like it," he said, singling out the effective way it rolls and brushes on. Sometimes cheaper paint doesn't cover the surface well and does dry "right," Murr said. He's experienced no such problems with GreenSheen. One coat usually tackles the job on interior projects, Murr said. He compared it favorably to Home Depot's highly-regarded Behr primer-and-paint in one.
Callahan said he believes his GreenSheen paint is "exceptional" for interior uses and "good" for exterior uses. Colorado's environment is tough on exterior paint. Brands that claim their paint will last up to 25 years aren't being realistic, Callahan said. He said GreenSheen exterior paint will last five to eight years.
While GreenSheen is about 60 percent less expensive than retail paint, it's 100 percent more environmentally friendly, Callahan said. He started the recycling effort after becoming aware as a painting contractor of the waste generated by the painting business. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates 65 million gallons of latex paint ends up legally in landfills. About 73 percent of the materials turned into landfills across the country on special hazardous waste collection days is latex paint, Callahan said.
He researched ways to "keep paint as paint" for the benefit of future generations. "It's a really cool idea," Callahan said. "I don't mean to be tooting my horn about it, but it is a cool idea."