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Trash Safety from Home

Randy DeVaul

Posted on August 23, 2019 18:33

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Though we think we are more "earth-friendly" than we used to be, we still have a long way to go. Consider how you dispose of outdated medication, old computers, even tires. To keep everyone safe and healthy, please follow these tips about home trash.

We previously addressed left-over paints and what to do to get them out of our house. Today we will address some points on what to do with other problem waste items.

Expired Medications

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) provides instructions on proper disposal of medications. First, do not flush unused meds down the toilet. These meds dissolve in the water and end up in the lakes, rivers, and streams. Waste water treatment plants are designed to address waste – as in bodily waste – and are unable to filter, clean, or otherwise purge pharmaceuticals from the water. Not only can these medications directly affect us and our kids through the water we drink, these also impact our fish and wildlife.

So what should be done to dispose of prescription meds? Render the medication ‘unusable’ by placing in water, then making it ‘solid’ by using kitty litter, coffee grounds, dirt, or ashes. It can then be safely placed into the trash for disposal through the landfill. If you have ‘sharps’ such as needles and syringes, be sure to place the needles in stick-proof containers or take them to a hospital, which is required to take household sharps for disposal.

Tires

If you have old tires to discard, here are a few suggestions. Can you re-use the tire(s) in the garden?  You can create a garden covered mound or just fill with potting soil and plants. Other options are to clean it with soap and water and use it as a swing, develop an obstacle course for the kids, or other recreational uses.

If you don’t have use for any of these, local tire retailers may be able to help. There may be a modest fee associated with getting rid of them but it's better than the alternative of being stuck with them. You may be able to take tires to the salvage company, as well. Don’t throw them in somebody else’s yard and do NOT burn them. The toxic smoke created by burning tires will cause health problems for you and/or neighbors while really smoking up the air. 

Computers and Electronics

This is a rather large category. It includes computers, monitors, cell phones, and other electronic equipment as well as fluorescent lighting. Smoke detectors contain levels of ionized radiation and illuminated exit signs have tritium in them, also radioactive. So this category is the most difficult to address. As a homeowner, you may have inherited ‘stuff’ when you purchased your home.  Perhaps you just like to stay up on the current and latest trends and you have loads of obsolete or outdated equipment.

Cell phones can be returned to cell phone retailers. Some non-profit groups want computers and monitors. Communities that set up household waste days will take most items, except those that are radioactive.

To be a good steward of this earth and to be responsible, dispose of your ‘junk’ properly so you, yours, and everyone will remain safe at home.

Randy DeVaul

Posted on August 23, 2019 18:33

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Source: Quartz

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