Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hazardous Wastes Require Special Disposal Methods

We all know that much of what goes into our landfills is hazardous waste. What some may not be aware of is that these contaminants are not contained by the landfill. Landfill liners break down and get pierced by sharp, heavy materials, and leaking begins. Landfill sites have been found time and again to be among the most hazardous places to build a home--years after the landfill is closed and developed for other uses.

The best thing you can do to start your own personal journey of not worsening Earth's contamination, is to know what materials should not go into the landfill. Holding these for special disposal sites and collections is your best way of protecting the quality of our environment. Here is a list of some of the materials you should never toss into your curbside pick up, courtesy of Ed Begley, Jr. and his book, Living Like Ed:

  • oven cleaners
  • drain cleaners
  • wood polish
  • metal polish
  • toilet bowl cleaners
  • tub, tile, and shower cleaners
  • bleach
  • pool chemicals
  • motor oil, tansmission fluid, and brake fluid
  • carburetor and fuel injection system cleaners
  • antifreeze
  • air-conditioning refrigerant
  • rat poison
  • flea repellents
  • mothballs
  • bug sprays
  • roach traps
  • snail pellets
  • weed killers
  • adhesives and glues
  • oil or enamel based paints
  • wood stains
  • pain thinners and turpentine
  • painstrippers and removers
  • photographic chemicals
  • driveway sealer
  • batteries
  • mercury thermostats or thermometers
  • flourescent lightbulbs, which contain mercury
  • incandescent lightbulbs, which contain lead
  • propane tanks and other compressed gas cylinders
  • kerosene
  • home heating oil
  • diesel fuel
  • gasoline and oil mixed togther
  • lighter fluid
  • automotive starter fluid
You're probably asking yourself, "Where will I put all that stuff if I can't toss it?" You can start by calling your local solid waste management facility for information on collection places, dates and times, as well as guidelines for various materials.

If your facility is unable to accept all of your wastes, then move to good ole Google. Type in "hazardous waste" and your state or city and you'll find out where collections are planned and get the scoop from the sites that are returned in your search.

Every time I write a post like this one, I get a couple of emails asking how I handle this particular matter personally. This time I'm going to beat them to the punch. My laundry room and garage have a variety of small boxes and bags containing all kinds of things that might be recyclable at some place, some time. There's a milk carton full of old batteries, a plastic berry carton full of bottle caps, a bag of styrofoam, a box of lightbulbs, and another milk carton of wine corks, to name a few. I label each container to make them easier to find. Nothing to it.

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