When it comes to getting rid of things like junk mail or banana peels, there isn’t a lot of mystery involved – those are pretty clear-cut recycle, trash or compost situations. But there are a number of common household items that are a little bit more complicated and definitely don’t belong in your trash can!
Keep in mind: Most cities and townships have a local Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) center nearby that will dispose of these items for you. Not sure where the closest one is? Run a quick search on Earth911 to find it!
Batteries. Since they’re small, it might seem okay to just toss your batteries in the trash. Don’t do it! Batteries contain metals such as alkaline, zinc, nickel and cadmium, so they shouldn’t be thrown in with the rest of your trash or recycling. Instead, bring your batteries to your local HHW facility and let the professionals handle it. Note: Some retail stores such as Walmart and IKEA also participate in battery recycling programs.
Electronics. Have you been eying that 60” flat screen at Best Buy? We say treat yourself to it! But don’t immediately chuck your old TV into the dumpster. The same goes for other household electronics like DVD players, laptops and printers. These items should be taken to an e-waste center. For more information, visit the EPA website.
CFL light bulbs. These energy efficient bulbs are great for the environment, but they also contain a little bit of mercury, so they’re not safe to throw in the regular trash. Take them to your local HHW center instead!
Smoke detectors. These puppies protect you and your family from fires, but they need to be replaced every ten years. Ionization smoke detectors actually emit a small amount of radiation, so they should be mailed back to their manufacturer (after you’ve removed the batteries). Photoelectric smoke detectors can be taken to any electronics recycling facility.
Paint. Buying the perfect amount of paint for a project isn’t easy, so a half-empty bucket or two is pretty common. Water-based paints aren’t hazardous, so they actually can go out with your regular trash. However, oil-based paints contain a number of chemicals that have special disposal needs, so be sure to take them to your local HHW facility (or try donating them to a local charity or nonprofit such as Habitat for Humanity).