Hazardous waste. You live green; you avoid it, right?
Sure … but odds are good that you might have batteries, empty printer cartridges, burned out CFL bulbs, or some old cleaning products or garden chemicals, either purchased before you cleaned up your ways, or left behind by a former resident of your home.
We recently went through the process of handing over a few toxic items to our city’s hazardous waste disposal. In the past, our city’s solid waste department would come collect these items for free. Now, you have to sign up ahead of time for a collection and pay $20 to have items picked up, or to drop them off at a collection center yourself. It’s a hassle, but worthwhile to keep items out of the landfill.
Our service will collect household and garden chemicals, including oil paint. They also accept batteries and the like, but if you’re looking at your own hazardous waste site beneath the kitchen sink, consider these ideas:
- If you have batteries to dispose of (either disposables or recyclables that aren’t taking a charge any longer), see this page for ideas. In short, it reports that most batteries are sent to hazardous waste landfills, because they contain heavy metals; California mandates they be recycled.
- Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs contain mercury. They should be safely recycled. Many locations now have drop boxes, including many Home Depot and Ace Hardware stores.
- Latex paint doesn’t need to go to the hazardous waste collection. Especially if you bought low-VOC paint, but even in general with new latex paint formulations, latex paint has a low hazard level. Use it up, give it away, store it for later, or let it dry out and put it in the general trash collection.
And if you do have a special pickup in your area, talk to your neighbors — maybe you can collaborate to combine a pickup. You’ll save everyone money and avoid unnecessary trips by the waste management team to pick up half-full bags.
In the spirit of spring cleaning, Green Daily also recently published an article about what to do with your hazardous waste with several good ideas, including:
- Turn in printer cartridges and cell phones for recycling — many organizations also benefit financially from recycling these hazardous items.
- Donate unwanted cleaning products to a charity for them to use up.
For just about anything else, visit Earth911’s site to find where you can recycle a whole array of items, either near you or by mail.