Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Disposal of household chemicals: What a pain in the.....

As I migrate to greener products for household cleaning, I am faced with disposing of household chemicals.  You would think it would be easy to rid yourself of these things, but that is not the case for me.  Here's the story of how I *finally* was able to safely dispose of a cupboard full of cleaning products.

What do you do with cleaning products you no longer want?  This was a question I asked Waste Management about a month ago.  I know that you shouldn't dispose of product containers still containing cleaning fluids (I wouldn't want to be the garbage guy when that garbage crusher came down), so I called them to ask just what do I have to do to dispose of the cupboard full of non-effective and/or non-green cleaners?

My call to Waste Management was fruitless.  The only thing that they really could tell me was to NOT stick my chemicals in my trash.  I was referred to a different county's dump to ask them for more information.  This wasn't very helpful either since here in Virginia, you get a town/county sticker for your car each year (a nice, hidden tax!) and you have the right to dump trash at the dump in your county only.  I told the Waste Management CS rep this, but she still referred me to neighboring county's dump site.  They, at least, could tell me what they do, which is have a day once or twice a year where you can take your chemicals in for safe disposal.

By sheer chance, I happened to see a notice in the newspaper advertising the ability to take my cleaners to a location about a half hour from me on 10/30.  This was really inconvenient, but I suppose necessary. Had I not happened to read the insert stuffed with grocery ads, I would not have known that one was coming up in a few days.  It was not well-advertised and I hadn't seen any flyers around town alerting us residents to this golden opportunity on a Saturday morning between the hours of 7:30 and 11 AM only.   Nothing like short notice and an even shorter window of opportunity!

So if you happened to come here looking for information about chemical disposal dates, I recommend skipping your garbage hauler and contacting your county government office to ask when/if there is a day (or hopefully more than one) designated for you to safely dispose of your chemical cleaners.  We did a good sweep of the chemicals in our house and turned in a large box of cleaners to be disposed of properly.

One thing that really got me thinking about the notice was the list of items they weren't willing to take, which included CFL bulbs that are touted as the best thing since sliced bread when it comes to conserving energy.  Also included were smoke detectors, which I imagine is because of the small amount of radioactive material inside.  What struck me was how easy it its to buy this 'toxic' stuff, yet disposing of it results in no one wanting to take it back.  I don't like the idea of perpetually storing items because there is no easy way to safely dispose of them.

What are your thoughts on this matter?  How does your area work chemical disposal? Let us know!
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