Disposal Of Household Hazardous Waste & Medicine

An article in my local news inspired this article, as I felt such a strong reaction to what I was reading.  Talk about feeling the consequences of your actions!  A person decided to dump litres of latex paint into their storm drain which flowed into a local creek which happens to be a high volume fish-bearing waterway.  What caused me to gasp is my 4 year old was releasing coho fry into this very creek only weeks ago on his first preschool field trip.  Because of this action, about 44,000 fry and eggs narrowly escaped death,  because the quick acting creek’s president shut off the creek intake and switched to the back-up well water.  They won’t know if the thousands of fish will be affected, but it makes you stop and scratch your head.  Even if the storm drain isn’t marked, come on!

So I did some digging on the disposal of hazardous household waste… paints, antifreeze, antibiotics, etc.  The culprit in the above crime (latex paint) is one of the easiest types to dispose of, along with water based paint, as it’s less harmful to simply ‘dry up’ this paint.  If you buy cat litter or sawdust, fill up a paper bag with it, and then pour the remaining paint into the bag.  Wait for the paint to be absorbed and dispose of the bag with your household trash.

You cannot do this for oil-based paints as they post potential environmental and public health risks.  You need to contact your local hazardous materials resource centre for information on proper disposal.  OR you can give away or donate leftover paint to a local theater group or non-profit organization.  Or even more fun, you can also locate a user for your paint through freecycle.org, an online swap shop.  I’ve never heard of this website before, but it’s a nonprofit movement of people who are giving away stuff.  It’s all about reuse and keeping good things out of landfills.  I logged onto this site and found local communities with groups setup, close enough by to drive to and this is a worldwide site!  Very cool find.

Something that is piling up in my cupboard after a bad flu and strep throat season is old antibiotics.  You know that last little bit of medicine that never gets used up?  I’ve been collecting my bottles of old antibiotics in a safe place and when it’s worth the trip for me, I can bring it to my local pharmacy.  My pharmacist told me to take a marker and black out my personal information on the label, then bring them in and they’ll look after proper disposal of what would be a harmful substance to the environment.

Antifreeze is generally one of the most difficult items to dispose of properly. In addition, antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets and other animals so the best option is to first purchase the new environmentally safe antifreezes.   Otherwise contact the nearest car dealership, or automotive repair shop to see if they’ll take it to recycle. 

For disposal of old gas, you should contact your local hazardous materials resource centre.  Here is an article that talks about the disposal of used oil, batteries, brake fluid, tires, and coolant.

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