My nightmare garage and hazardous waste

by mo on June 8, 2010

I have been in my home for over six years and recently motivated myself to get rid of well over a dozen paint cans left by the former owner. Figuring out how to rid myself of both latex and oil paint, I understand why they slipped out of town and left it all to us. Of course I have added to the mix since. I try to limit the toxic chemicals that I use in my home and in the garden, but when one starts to look at labels, it is insidious.

I will truck my paint cans about 45 minutes away to a drop center. But how many people take the trouble? My fear is too few. Have you had to figure out what to do with a compact fluorescent light bulb, yet?  Living along a Great Lake, I think it is easier to see the connection of pollution run-off to freshwater resources. Having traveled extensively in the southwest where one only sees water in plastic bottles and hydrating golf courses, I am not sure if the average person sees the connection. And the sources for chemicals is unending.

Recent reports on the impact of pharmaceutical chemicals, most notably the feminization of male fish living downstream from wastewater treatment plants, scared me. The possible impact on human health, including reproductive function, should be a concern to all of us. I have the benefit of living in a city with one of the best water filtration system in the nation. Even that is not a true line of defense.

I chose long ago to limit my purchases of many products containing chemicals we want to keep out of our groundwater. Years ago I read the label of oven cleaner, and in addition to wondering if I needed a hazardous waste suit to use it, had no idea what I would do with the empty can, given the garbage service for the apartment building. I managed to get the oven into a condition that I would use it (though fear of residue in my food lasted for months) but that was the last time I bought the stuff. My current oven does not have a self-clean cycle, but one learns that it really is not that hard to clean the inside of one after a bout of high temperature.

Pharmaceuticals are a big challenge.  These dangerous chemicals are not limited to prescription drugs, either. Expired aspirin bought in a monster sized bottle and flushed down the toilet is a common disposal method for many people.  Again, reducing what comes into the house is the best method to reduce one’s impact on the environment. It is impossible to avoid ti all. For example, I will continue to use sunscreen in an effort to reduce my risk for skin cancer. (Google that ingredient list if you want to get heartburn.) And I will continue to use flea and tick preventative for my dog’s health. The list goes on!

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has a some good ideas of dealing with waste and links to other resources. Back to my paint cans.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

articles of organization December 24, 2010 at 8:14 am

Nice site, nice and easy on the eyes and great content too.


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