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How to Safely Dispose of Various Household Items

There is much that a consumer can do to keep potentially toxic materials out of landfills. Environmentally-friendly individuals can properly dispose of household items or pass them along to those in need.

Learn what to do with paint, batteries, electronics and potentially flammable liquids in your home.

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Paint

Paint, such as latex paint, is a common household liquid that should not be dumped in the garbage as is. Your area may have a Recycle and Reuse Drop-off Center. At the one in Austin, many common household items can be reused or safely discarded. When you’re done painting your home, the paint you do not need may become a free resource for individuals and nonprofits in your community, as Austin’s recycling center has done with their Austin ReBlend paint.

If your area does not have such a center, a homeowner can let the paint dry or use an absorbent material to soak up the paint. Paint can then be discarded in the garbage. Empty metal or plastic paint cans can be recycled with metal or plastic recycling, respectively. Individuals concerned about the environment or about having volatile organic compounds in their paint should choose to use latex paint in their home.

Batteries

Some batteries are not hazardous and can be discarded in the trash. Alkaline batteries can be thrown into the regular garbage or homeowners may take them to a waste drop-off site. Rechargeable batteries should not be thrown away in the garbage. In some states, the stores that sell such items must take back a certain amount of the product they sell. Batteries should be individually bagged or terminals taped before dropping them off at a waste drop-off site. An auto battery can be returned to an auto supply store or service station that sells them or taken to a household waste drop-off site. Backup batteries less than 25 lbs should be recycled through the manufacturer or retailer or taken to a household special waste drop-off site.

Gasoline

Gasoline is a highly flammable liquid and as such should not be discarded down the drain or at the curb. Try to use the gasoline up. If this is not possible, take flammable liquids to a disposal event in the area or call a hazardous/chemical waste company for safe removal of the liquid.

Electronics

This is a broad topic and the majority of people own and use a variety of electronic devices in their home. Computers and peripherals can be donated or sold when still in working condition. They can be recycled at free take-back programs, along with printers, small servers and scanners. Electronic waste should not be dumped in the garbage. Tablets and e-readers can be donated or sold if still usable or recycled at a take-back program or disposal event. The same applies to TVs, VCRs, DVDs, DVRs, video game consoles and cable or satellite receivers.

If a product still works, sell or give it to someone who can use it. Host a garage sale, give it to a neighbor or family member, look for a group such as Freecycle or an online recycling group or post it on Craigslist. Many people will take working electronics off of your hands and make use of the devices. Turn to a take-back program or disposal event when an item can no longer be used. Remember, it may be illegal in a state to discard electronics in the garbage.

Safe Disposal Supports the Environment and the Community

Safely discarding the items you own but no longer need can keep them out of the landfills and give them a second life. Items in working order can be passed along to others. Special waste disposal events can take broken or used items or materials and safely recycle or discard them.

Consumers can look into recycling groups and help others save money on a needed computer, tablet or other device. An old computer may be another family’s first computer or benefit an elderly neighbor. Check with community organizations, churches or shelters to see whether they are someone they know can use extra cans of paint or working electronics or goods for the home. Thinking outside of the box when it comes to waste disposal and recycling can help your community too.

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