Visualize a toxic waste dump – you’re likely seeing industrial complexes, effluent spilling from pipes, noxious fumes emitting from factory chimneys and barrels with scarey labels.
There is a hazardous waste dump closer to home for most of us – in our homes in fact. Look inside your kitchen cupboards and all the cleaning potions; out in your garage, shed or workshop, your poolshed, the boot of your car even your medicine cabinet. You’ll likely find a toxic waste dump rivalling many chemical companies, just on a smaller scale.
Over time, we have a tendency to collect items such as paints, thinners, cleaners, pesticides, artificial fertilizers, old fuel, bleach and all sorts of other toxic stuff containing more environmental nasties than you can poke a stick at.
We’ve just moved recently and here’s a photo of 7 years of accumulation of such materials that have gone out of date or can’t be used for whatever reason that I haven’t wanted to dispose of irresponsibly.
It’s rather sobering when you put all this stuff in a pile. Let’s say that there’s just 1 gallon of these materials in the average home and that’s possibly a gross underestimation. Based on figures from 2000, a household consists of around 2.6 people. The current population of the USA as at July 2007 was 301 million; so that makes over 115 million households, 115 million gallons – which is an incredible 2,613,636 44 gallon oil drums full of toxic materials out there in households.
While prevention is always better than cure, not many of us can claim to have a toxic waste free home, so what do we do with this stuff? Even if you’re making the change to green cleaners right now, that still leaves you with the other stuff to deal with
It’s a tough question – there’s very few “safe” ways to dispose of it that won’t cause some sort of negative impact on the environment. The best thing you can do is to call your local government waste authority and ask them about hazardous waste disposal.
All waste received at thes hazardous waste depots is sorted and classified to identify the most appropriate recycling, treatment or disposal option. One of the problems I’ve found with these services is that it’s not like visiting your local recycling center in terms of convenience. They are often only open one day a month and in our city, it means a journey of around a hour to get to it. It’s further good motivation I guess for not accumulating these items in the first place I guess!
As mentioned, prevention is better than cure – there’s so many natural alternatives available now to replace many harsh chemicals we use in our homes. Browse around Green Living Tips and you’ll find a stack of them!