We all have one…that shelf or cabinet with old paints, bug killers and cleaners. You don’t want that stuff near your kids or pets so you keep it out of reach. It’s equally as important to keep these items out of the environment. So when it’s time to get rid of those hazardous household items make sure you Do Your Part and do it the right way.
It’s estimated that every American home has an average of 100 pounds of hazardous household waste. This includes everything from paint and thinners to used motor oil, bug killers, bleach, cleaners, and even batteries. Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) are also considered hazardous waste due to the small amount of mercury they contain.
Let's start with what NOT to do! Pouring hazardous household waste down any drain sends the toxins directly into our water supply. This includes the drains inside your home and the storm drains outside your home. Pollution flowing into storm drains is called storm water pollution and it’s the leading cause of water pollution in America. You should also never put hazardous household waste in the trash. Whether it’s sending it to a landfill or burning it in a trash pile, both can release toxins directly into the air, land and water where we live.
Hazardous household waste needs to be disposed of properly. This means taking it to a qualified recycling center and here’s an easy way to find one. Use Earth911.com. Simply type in the item you want to recycle and your zip code to get a list of locations that will accept your item. You can also contact your county waste collection office by phone for recycling information. Many communities hold hazardous household waste collection events throughout the year so be looking for those too.
Another way to reduce the amount of hazardous household waste in your home is to start buying less! Many times there are alternatives that work just as well. Eco-friendly cleaners and pesticides are more widely available on store shelves and while they may cost more to purchase, keep in mind the true cost of an item is always more than just the money you spend.
Hazardous household waste can contaminate the land, water and air around us. Disposing of it properly is another way to Do Your Part for everyday green living.