Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Recycling Unusual Items

Hopefully, you all are already recycling the basic items such as paper, plastic, tin, aluminum, & cardboard. I want to focus on the unusual items today. Many of you may have joined me during the “Get Organized Week” two weeks ago and may have items you want to get rid of but aren’t sure how to dispose of them properly. This post will give you the resources you need to do that.

The Environment, Health and Safety online website allows you to type in what you want to recycle and your zip code. It then lists the closest place to recycle your item. This is a great resource to use for each of the items I discuss below.

Many people aren’t aware that they shouldn’t throw their batteries away (most states allow you to throw away alkaline but it isn’t good for the environment). Batteries need to be disposed of properly. Batteries in our landfills and trash incinerators can disperse heavy metals and other toxic substances into our air and water, which causes serious health risks to us.
I always take my regular alkaline batteries to Best Buy and drop them into their recycling bin.

Rechargeable batteries can also be recycled. Click here for a list of places to take them.

Recycling batteries in California is mandatory. Here is a page with info specific to CA.

Printer cartridges
There are several businesses that have drop-off bins to recycle your printer cartridges. I have seen them at Wal-Mart and office supply stores like Office Max.

Many cities have a recycling program that includes picking up your old television. To find out if your city does this do a search for “hazardous material [type your city, state]” and you should find your city website with recycling information. Check out this site to find the nearest drop-off location to you.
Hazardous materials
Hazardous waste is defined as liquid, solid, contained gas, or sludge wastes that contain properties that are dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment.

A few basic tips when dealing with hazardous waste (source, Ohio State):
• First and foremost, never burn or dump any hazardous wastes on the ground.
• Do not dispose of any hazardous material "down the sink" unless you are sure it can safely be disposed into the sewer system. "Down the sink" includes letting hazardous materials run down the sewer system (draining an auto's oil into the gutter system or excessive water runoff from a pesticide treated yard) or down the toilet. If you have a septic tank, additional care must be taken.
• Avoid burying any containers or leftover chemicals.
• Do not mix hazardous wastes and do not collect containers and chemicals to dispose of them at one time.
Solidify any liquid wastes. This involves using an absorbent material (sawdust, kitty litter, paper towels, rags) to soak up a liquid hazardous material. Do not solidify more than one chemical at a time. Using gloves, sweep or dispose of the material into a plastic bag, and then dispose of with other household garbage.
• Use this same process with any "empty" container other than an aerosol container. It is often good to "open" a non- aerosol container with wire cutters or scissors and air-dry; wearing gloves, swab the inside before disposal. Dispose of the rags or paper towels after they have aired outside.

For aerosol cans you need to turn the container upside down and depress spray button, with nozzle facing paper toweling, rags or any absorbent surface. When the spray has lost pressure, wrap the can in several layers of newspaper and dispose with household refuse.

Cleansers can be poured down a drain. If you have a septic tank, drain disposal should nearly always be avoided. If cleansers are designed to be used with water in a home or in sinks, showers, toilet bowls, and tubs, the material is probably drain disposable. Let the water run, rinse the container and slowly pour the water/chemical down the drain. Allow the water to continue running after the chemical is gone. Allow the container to air dry (or swab with paper towels), wrap in newspaper and dispose in household refuse.

Antifreeze can be flushed down the toilet if connected to a sewer system.

Pesticides, herbicides, oil paints, paint cleaners, and oil and transmission fluids should never be flushed into a water system or disposed of on ground or put into household refuse. Most cities Hazardous Waste Programs will take these products. Automobile batteries should never be added to a home's garbage. Some communities have hazardous waste material collection systems for some of these wastes.

Again, check out this website to find the nearest recycling center for any item.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to blog about it soon, but you should check out freecycle.org