These events allow employees to bring their household paperwork and hazardous waste (electronics, paint, pool and yard chemicals, batteries, etc.) to the RSC for recycling and/or proper disposal. Recently, the program has been expanded to include a collection area for clothing, blankets, shoes, eyeglasses and other items to be donated for reuse by community non-profit organizations.
It’s a great program that we were all happy to be a part of. We cleaned out our homes and garages to contribute 1,200 pounds of electronics, more than 400 old cans of paint, 3,200 pounds of household and lawn chemicals, 260 pounds of batteries and even a stove.
Many of our employees didn’t realize how many every day items could be reused in the community or were considered “hazardous waste” and required proper disposal methods. Here’s the top five things that we learned shouldn’t be thrown away.
Electronics – There are lots of online sources where you can recycle, trade or even sell your old cellphones, laptops and gaming consoles, especially if they are still in good working order. If online isn’t your thing, nowadays many grocery/super stores and electronics stores have recycling bins available for many different items, including electronics.
Batteries – No matter how small they are, batteries, even the button cell batteries, shouldn’t be tossed out with the trash. Electronics stores and specialty battery/bulb stores often have recycling drop-off bins that you can use for free.
Paint - For latex paint, you can look up paint recycling programs in your area. Often schools and municipalities will collect old paint for use in community projects. Oil based paint is considered hazardous material and will need to be taken to your local municipality. The best way to do this is to pour kitty litter or sawdust into the unused portion of the paint and leave the lid off in a well-ventilated area away from children and pets and allow the paint to dry. Contact your local municipality to see if they offer curbside pick-up or to learn where a drop-off location is.
CFL Bulbs – With many of us so used to just tossing out old light bulbs, you may not realize CFL bulbs are considered hazardous waste because they contain mercury. They can be properly disposed of at specialty battery/bulb stores and many home improvement centers are now offering drop-off bins for these items.
Household Goods and Linens – While not considered hazardous waste, these are items that can unnecessarily contribute to the waste stream. You can help reduce this by donating your old or unwanted items. Check with local non-profit organizations to donate unwanted clothing, blankets, towels and other household goods. Even if the towels and blankets are looking a bit old or stained, animal shelters are always in need of these staples and can probably use them. (Always wash items before donating them--it’s just good form.)
In general, your first tactic should be to seek out an option for reuse. Often it can help someone in your community, and it keeps the item out of the waste stream. Sometimes items are beyond repair or reuse and simply need to be disposed of properly. Proper disposal methods can be found be visiting the website of your local waste municipality or online sources like,Earth911.com.
Doing something as a group always makes it more fun, so why not invite a few friends and neighbors to collect their hazardous waste too and make an event of your own? You can start 2014 the way we did; with a clean conscious and an even cleaner garage.