Talking Green: Plan ahead during spring cleanup
Spring is frequently a time for energetic cleaning out of garages, sheds, storerooms, closets or storage units. While happily making headway on those home or workplace cleanup projects, be sure to plan some extra time to find out how to dispose of household hazardous waste properly.
Yes, almost all homes and offices have items lurking that are considered household hazardous waste. That waste includes items that are toxic, ignitable, corrosive or reactive. Many people may realize that paint is a hazardous waste, but many other common items are considered hazardous and are illegal to put in any container headed to the landfill.
Following are some basic categories of household hazardous waste.
- Paints and solvents
- Automotive wastes (used motor oil, antifreeze, etc.)
- Pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.)
- Mercury-containing wastes (thermometers, switches, fluorescent lighting, etc.)
- Electronics (computers, televisions, cell phones, etc.)
- Aerosols, propane cylinders
- Caustics, cleaning agents
- Refrigerant-containing appliances
- Specialty batteries (lithium, nickel cadmium or button cell batteries)
- Radioactive wastes (some home smoke detectors are classified as radioactive waste, because they contain very small amounts of radioactive isotope of americium)
In Routt County, properly disposing of such items takes a little more work, since there is no year-round regional collection center for all hazardous waste materials. However, some of these items can be properly recycled year-round at various helpful local businesses, ranging from antifreeze and used motor oil at Napa, to fluorescent lights and tubes at Ace Hardware, to paints at Sherwin-Williams or Ace Hardware, to cell phones collected free at Yampa Valley Sustainability Council office.
A longer A-to-Z list of hard-to-recycle item location can be found at the YVSC website, yvsc.org/a-z-recycle-guide.
The sustainability council and Routt County Environmental Health work with a certified vendor to collect household hazardous waste at reasonable rates each fall on a Saturday in late September or early October during the extremely popular Community Recycling Drop Off Day for residents of Routt County. In preparation for that event, be certain to keep leftover household hazardous waste items in the original labeled containers, store them safely, and watch for the newspaper notice for this year’s collection day.
Residents, businesses or organizations that need to dispose of hazardous waste before the fall collection event can pay for a professional pickup from Clean Harbors Environmental Services of Denver cleanharbors.com, when the company makes a “milk run” collection to Routt County, approximately every two weeks.
Inspectors at Milner Landfill work to review dumpsters for hazardous waste and refuse those items to be returned to the owner, so it is much easier and more efficient not to put those hazardous items in the trash in the first place. Another option is to employ the basic reduce, reuse and then recycle strategy. Try to use up those hazardous supplies according to manufacturer’s recommendations before recycling, and endeavor to think judiciously before over-buying similar items in the future.
Happy spring cleaning, but take the time to dispose of hazardous waste properly, so that one person’s clean garage or storeroom doesn’t lead to hazardous waste problems for the entire community.
Suzie Romig is energy outreach coordinator for Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.
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