Waste Not, Want Not
Keep your home and the environment free of hazardous waste by
disposing of current household hazardous waste and reducing future hazardous
waste by making smarter purchases.
As winter sets in and you find yourself housebound, consider doing something
healthy for the environment-go on a search and destroy mission for hazardous
waste. You don't need special equipment or a special suit; in fact you don't
even need to leave your house. You are searching for household hazardous
waste, and unfortunately, it is all too common in the average home. The U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies household hazardous waste as
"any leftover household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable or
Identifying household hazardous waste is generally the easy part. The
challenge comes in getting rid of it. You probably took some special
measures to use these products, and now you'll need to take some more
measures to get rid of them. Putting them out with your regular garbage is
not a good option. Many areas are placing restrictions on what items trash
collectors are allowed to pick up from the curb, and are instead coordinating
hazardous waste drop off days where residents can bring unsafe items for
Hazardous waste drop off days generally provide for the disposal of the items
-automotive products (used oil, antifreeze and air-conditioning refrigerants),
-home cleaning products (oven, drain or toilet cleansers, laundry bleach,
-indoor pesticides (insect sprays, mothballs and rat poison)
-home improvement items (oil-based and latex paint, varnish)
-lawn and garden chemicals
-fluorescent light bulbs
Call your local department of public works to find out what disposal programs
are offered in your area.
Once you clean out the old, before you buy more consider purchasing "smarter"
in the future. When buying products that can become household hazardous
waste, buy the correct amount of the product necessary to do thejob. When
planning to paint a room, estimate how much paint you will need so you are
not left with a lot of excess. You can determine the surface area to be
painted by multiplying the wall's height by its width. Once you know the
surface area, talk to a representative at the home supply store about the
correct amount of paint to get the coverage you desire.
If you have paint or cleaning products left over from a job, don't put them
in your basement and forget about them. Donate it to an organization that
will put the products to good use. Habitat for Humanity, a local theater
company, or a religious organization could certainly benefit from your
For more tips on avoiding household hazardous waste, log onto the EPA's
website at www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/muncpl/hhw.htm.
Sources: J.J. McCoy, The Washington Post; the U.S. Environmental Protection