When it comes to throwing things away, many people simply open up their trash can and throw it away without a thought for where it ends up. From used batteries to household appliances, to leftover medicine, cell phones and paint pots, few people realise that these are some of the most harmful objects to toss into the trash.
The amount of damage these items cause to the environment is huge. They contain harmful chemicals, materials, toxins, heavy metals… the list is endless.
With that in mind, one of the UK’s leading waste management companies Enviroco has come up with a handy guide for how you can care for the environment the next time you have to throw one of these baddies away…
#1 – Batteries
Most people just throw batteries away without giving it a second thought. Unfortunately, what they don’t realise is that this simple act really damages the environment. Many batteries contain harmful metals and chemicals that can leak into the air and water supply.
- Single-use batteries, such as those you pick up in a drugstore are typically alkaline in nature. Although they do contain some mercury, they are not as hazardous as they used to be. However, they should still be recycled.
- Rechargeable batteries, like the ones found in everyday household items like cameras, cell phones, laptops and power tools should also be recycled.
- Car batteries contain lead, so you need to take them to your local waste management centre. Because they contain valuable materials, speak to your nearest auto retailer to see if they will “buy back” your used car batteries for recycling.
#2 – Household Appliances
Old appliances, like fridges and freezes have dangerous chemicals in them, like CFCs and mercury. Around 10 million fridges are disposed of in the US each year, with 6 million ending up on landfill – which is bad news for the environment.
According to federal law, old appliances with contain CFCs must be recovered – so speak to your local hazardous waste management centre. To avoid a nasty fine, you could also choose to donate your old fridge to charity or have it removed by a donation centre for families which need appliances.
#3 Cell Phones and Computers
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the average North American gets a new cell phone every 18 to 24 months!
This means that many old phones, many of which contain hazardous metals like lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic, are simply tossed into the trashcan. Like cell phones, electronic waste like computers and laptops not only takes up valuable landfill space, they contain even greater amounts of hazardous materials and heavy metals.
The good news is that there are a number of companies out there who will take your cell phone off your hands, for free, and pay you for the handset too! You could also think about donating your old computer to homeless shelters or to local schools.
#4 Leftover Paint
Paint is one of the hardest things to dispose of. However, by its very nature it’s a very toxic material if it gets into the environment – so you should never throw it out with your normal trash.
If you can’t use it up, why not give it to a friend or use it as primer? Alternatively you could donate it to charity, or contact a local theatre group – they are always looking for paint for backdrops! If you simply can’t use it up, you might need to throw it away.
For latex paint you need to take the lid off and leave it exposed to the air so it can harden.
For oil-based paint this isn’t possible, so take it directly to your local hazardous waste centre.
Once upon a time we were told to just flush leftover medicines down the toilet. However, drugs which are flushed or washed down the drain can get into our soil and water supply, creating an environmental hazard.
If you have old medicines you need to get rid of, contact your local pharmacy and see if they will take it back from you. If they don’t offer such a facility, contact your local hazardous waste management centre.
Your last bet is to speak to a charitable organisation – some medicines may still be good enough to be used in third world countries. A simple internet search should provide you with details.
Author Bio: This guest post was supplied by Enviroco, one of the UK’s leading hazardous waste management companies. Enviroco provides eco-friendly waste management and recycling services for businesses.
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