It’s not a glamorous task. In fact, you might have to pay someone (your handy teenager?) to take out the trash every day or so. The recyclable things go in their respective recycling bins and the garbage goes into the garbage bins and the city’s waste management (hopefully) comes by and carries it all away. That’s the typical routine, but you may want to add a third bin to your garbage detail – one for hazardous waste.
You may be thinking, “I don’t own a chemical company or run a doctor’s office, how can I have hazardous materials in my house?” If you’ve ever owned batteries, fluorescent light bulbs or weed killer, then you need to keep reading. (Also on the list of household dangers: antifreeze, motor oils, rust remover, gasoline, ammonia, drain cleaner, paint, other garden and swimming pool chemicals.)
The dangers of toxic waste are far-reaching. If not disposed of properly, these materials can catch fire, corrode containers (even metal ones), cause explosions, release toxic fumes, poison (either by inhalation or ingestion) and pollute groundwater. In most places, including Canada, failure to remove these items properly can land you in serious trouble with the government.
Make sure that items you bring into your home don’t cause future environmental problems. Dispose of hazardous waste the right way! Never pour chemicals down the sink, into the grass or anywhere else outdoors. And almost all product labels mention (as a reminder) that containers should be disposed of properly and safely.
Most municipalities have services, like residential waste disposal, that will set a schedule for residential pick-up of dangerous/toxic materials – just ensure that these items are kept separate from everyday refuse. Also note to keep materials in their original containers so they are clearly and correctly labeled. Never mix products and make sure to tightly cap and seal everything.
If you live in a smaller town without this specific home service, you may be able to find a drop-off location. If you live in Canada, check out this article that lists each province’s system for household hazardous waste management. If you’re a U.S. resident, type in your zip code here for your local services.
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