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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Eco-Friendly Tips We All Need To Know!

by Kristen Banker

Before you launch into a weekend of cleaning out your cabinets or the garage, stop for a refresher course on disposing of all that leftover paint, used motor oil, expired medications, dead batteries and other items considered “hazardous household waste”. You may realize you have more hazardous junk then you thought.

Disposing properly of such materials isn’t as simple as just tossing them into the trash. Careless disposal of these items can have adverse environmental effects.

When you put things in the trash, you may think they just “go away”, but there is really no “away”. What we put out into the environment as trash, will come back to us in water, air, and even food.

The best way to handle hazardous household waste is to use less in the first place and buy only what you need. Never pour hazardous household products down the sink or the toilet and never dump them in the storm drain. Instead, look for household hazardous waste collection sites in your area. To find a program near you contact your local recycling center or solid waste agency. You can also check for collection sites at Earth 911.

Home and Garden Products

When it comes to home improvements and cleaning and gardening products, always look for the safer, organic alternatives. After buying a product, try to use all of it. If you are stuck with leftovers, offer them to neighbors, local businesses or community organizations.

Used Motor Oil

It’s a major source of oil contamination in the waterways and can end up polluting our drinking water sources. Fortunately, oil can be re-refined and continue it’s useful life as new oil or as a raw material for petroleum. Used motor oil is one of the most widely collected household hazardous waste items, (according to Anne Reichman, program director of Earth 911). Many service stations and automotive stores will gladly take your leftovers. Earth 911 can assist you in finding a drop off location.

Expired Medications

Who hasn’t flushed old medications down the toilet at one point in their life? To safely toss medications, put liquids, pills and capsules into a sealable plastic bag. Add kitty liter, sawdust, or used coffee grounds to the bag to make the bag less appealing to children or animals. Seal the bag, and then place it in the trash. For more info on disposing of medications properly, visit, smarxtdisposal.

Left Over Paint

Paint is the number one hazardous item people bring to waste collection sites. Latex, (water based), paint poses fewer health and environmental risks than oil-based paints, but both should be disposed of correctly. Read and follow the label instructions and check with your local hazardous coordinator about the requirements in your area. Some community sites provide swap tables where paint can be left for others to take. To find a site near you, Earth 911 has the scoop.

Batteries

Americans use up to six wireless gadgets everyday, usually powered by rechargeable batteries. While rechargeable is the way to go, they still contain toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury and lead. That’s why it’s not safe to just toss them in the trash. Instead, recycle them through the Rechargable Battery Recycling Corporation which has collection boxes for batteries and cell phones at more then 30,000 retail and community locations nationwide. To find a site near you, visit, rbrc.org

Did You Know?

  • You can use cedar chips or white peppercorns as a substitute for mothballs.
  • The EPA says that if all Americans recycled used oil from DIY oil changes, there would be enough motor oil for more than 50 million cars a year.
  • A Community group in your community may be really happy to get your leftover paint to use.
  • According to the EPA, the average home accumulates as much as 100 pounds of hazardous waste in its storage areas.
  • More than 350 million rechargeable batteries are purchased in the U.S. every year according to the EPA.

Eco Sites With Great Eco Tips

There are many alternative choices now available for our homes, inside and out.

PlanetGreen has compiled a list of the top 5 coolest materials for your home, from what type of paint to use, to “green insulation”.

If you think of your home without pollution, here’s some bad news. The levels of pollutants in indoor air can be from two to more than 100 times higher than outdoors, according to the U.S EPA. Grist has compiled a great list on how to clean your house without hurting the planet.

Treehugger has put together a plethora of handy guides to help you green your lives with ease, while also explaining the “whys”. Make sure you check this out and tell your friends, family and colleagues! Most of us understand the need to “go green”, some of us understand how to go about it, but there are still those out there who are just not getting it. These guides will definitely help shed some much-needed “green” light on the subject.

If you’ve never visited the site Ecologue, you must. They rock!
Ecologue is a website devoted to the benefits of living eco-consciously and creating a greener home. Whether you’re a newbie to green living, or just seeking new ideas, this site has it all. They offer many different topics from tips and suggestions to great eco-cleaning products. They have it all covered for us.

TheGreenGuide has compiled the top 10 ways consumers can help reduce the 22 tons of carbon dioxide each of us produce in the United States, (annually). Try their small and not-so-small steps and you’ll help ensure a more comfortable future for our planet.

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