Humans consume an unsustainable amount of resources. As a result, an enormous volume of waste and trash of all kinds is generated, which ends up polluting the environment. That’s a well-known fact, but the paradigm is far from changing.
Although about a decade ago, there was a lot of propaganda to get people to recycle and adopt the 3Rs policy (reduce, reuse, recycle), the truth is that the consumerist society continues to buy a lot more things than it needs.
In general, people know what to do with the waste they produce. The problem is that some of this waste may contain toxic products that can be extremely hazardous. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you and prevent you from making any critical mistake when it comes time to dispose of such products.
Here are seven things that you can’t simply throw away as if it were some ordinary garbage piece:
1. Prescription and OTC meds
Most people don’t know what to do with the drugs they no longer need or have expired. Unfortunately, this often causes them to be thrown away in the garbage, which can present a great risk to the environment, and the animals used to scavenge the garbage can.
You should take all your expired and unused meds to a pharmacy near your area of residence. They will know exactly what to do with them.
If none of the pharmacies near you accept these drugs to be safely disposed of through a drug take-back program and the drug you want to get rid of is in the FDA’s flush list, you can safely flush them down the toilet.
You can check that list right here. Remember that flushing drugs down the toilet should be a last resort option.
With the popularity of electronic devices and electric cars, an obscene amount of batteries is produced every year. Similarly, a huge amount is also thrown away.
It doesn’t matter if we are talking about a lithium-ion battery, an automotive battery, or a UPS battery. Most batteries contain chemical waste like mercury, cadmium, nickel, and lithium (to name a few) that can’t end up in a landfill due to the danger of soil contamination.
That’s why they need to be properly recycled! A quick Google search will probably tell you of a location in your town where you can take all your old batteries (of all kinds) to recycle. If you need to get rid of your car’s old battery, talk to your garage mechanic – he’ll know what to do.
3. Car waste
Since we are talking about mechanical experts and cars, it is worth mentioning other related items that you should not put in the trash. Like car tires, transmission fluid, and car oil, for example.
Tires are highly flammable and therefore present a high fire hazard. When on fire, they produce acid smoke that is super toxic for humans and the environment to make things worse. In turn, motor oil and transmission fluid can contaminate both water and soil.
All these things must be delivered to a specialized shop or your car repair shop of choice. In some countries, businesses that sell tires are required by law to take in the same amount of tires that they sell. This is a great way to prevent old tires from ending up where they shouldn’t.
4. Fluorescent light bulbs
Fluorescent light bulbs are very different from incandescent light bulbs. The latter is made of non-toxic products so you can throw them away with your regular trash. The former contains mercury, a toxic metal that can damage the environment.
For this reason, fluorescent light bulbs need to be properly recycled. Home renovation stores might be your best option since many of them have huge bins where you can deposit your old CFL (compact fluorescent) light bulbs – be careful not to break them during transportation!
Some thermometers (and thermostats) also contain mercury. Although efforts are being made to remove these specific thermometers from the market and replace them with digital thermometers, many people still have them.
If that is your case, be careful when it comes time to get rid of it. Contact your local recycling coordinator to take your old mercury thermometer to the right place.
After a DIY home renovation project, it is normal to have some extra paint left. You can save it for another project; you can sell it online or give it away to a friend, neighbor, or a non-profit organization – animal shelters and theater groups, for example, will certainly be very grateful.
With so many options, why would you throw it away and damage the environment? Paints like primers, coating, and oil-based paints are highly toxic!
7. Garden chemicals
For many people, gardening is a therapeutic activity that helps them keep stress levels under control. It can also be physically demanding, which ends up making it an extremely healthy occupation for both the mind and body.
One of its main problems is precisely the fact that it generates toxic waste. Herbicides, fertilizers, and pesticides are dangerous and can contaminate soil and water if thrown away without due care.
You also need to be careful when handling these chemicals because they can cause allergic reactions (like skin irritation, for example). But you probably already know that.
Take all your garden chemicals to a Household Hazardous Waste facility to be safely disposed of. Alternatively, you can also give it away to a neighbor who uses those types of products frequently.
It’s important to mention that if you throw any of the aforementioned things in the trash, you’re not just polluting the environment and damaging the ecosystem.
You are also breaking the law. In most developed countries, there are specific laws concerning waste disposal, and the fines for those who break them can be quite heavy.