How do I Discard Potential Hazardous Household Items?

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Categories: What's it Like, Living Green?

It's not always obvious what to do with certain items when you're done with them. For example, what do you do with medications, light bulbs, and batteries? Here are a few tips on how to be green when disposing of various hazardous items.

How to dispose of Medications

Do Not Flush or pour down the sink. This could lead to groundwater contamination. 80% of our rivers and streams have shown low levels of medications in the water.

Check to see if your pharmacy, recycling center or local municipality has a drug recycling program. If there are no take backs in your community, dispose of medication in your household trash by:

  1. Taking them out of the original container and mixing with an undesirable substance
    • Such as ashes, dirt, kitty litter, or coffee grounds.
    • Do Not conceal in food, scavengers could still consume it.
  2. Put the undesired mixture in a sealable bag, empty can, or another container to prevent leakage.

Dr. Michael Coldwell, Jan. 11, 09,, Keep Prescription Drugs Safe

Can You Throw Light Bulbs Away?

What do I do with a CFL light bulb when it burns out? And what is the proper disposal of a CFL bulb?

Follow these guidelines to dispose your CFL properly

Like paint, batteries, thermostats, and other hazardous household items, CFLs should be disposed of properly. Do not throw CFLs away in your household garbage if better disposal options exist. To find out what to do first check (where you can find disposal options by using your zip code) or call 1-800-CLEAN-UP for local disposal options. Another option is to check directly with your local waste management agency for recycling options and disposal guidelines in your community. Additional information is available at (this link mentioned Home Depot and Hazardous Waste Management, for my area) Finally, IKEA stores take back used CFLs, and other retailers are currently exploring take-back programs.

If your local waste management agency offers no other disposal options except your household garbage, place the CFL in a plastic bag and seal it before putting it in the trash. If your waste agency incinerates its garbage, you should search a wider geographic area for proper disposal options. Never send a CFL or other mercury-containing product to an incinerator.

ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs have a two-year warranty. If the bulb fails within the warranty period, return it to your retailer.

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