We all want to protect our environment, but it can be easy to overlook some of the simplest ways we can do this. Throwing hazardous waste in the garbage is a prime example of something we should never do.

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You may not know there are several items that you should never throw into the trash, and that they need to be disposed of in a safe way.

Here Are The Top 8 Items To Avoid Throwing In The Trash:

1. LIGHTBULBS

Lightbulbs are made from various materials that are hazardous to the environment if not handled and disposed of properly. Throwing them in the garbage means these hazardous materials, like lead and mercury, can leach into soil and waterways, causing contamination and posing serious health risks to plants, animals, and humans.

The hand changes the light bulb into the cartridge. LED lamp.
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When disposed of properly, lightbulbs can be recycled and reused. Take burnt-out bulbs to a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facility near you, where professionals can adequately discard them.

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2. MERCURY THERMOMETERS

The liquid mercury inside a mercury thermometer is very toxic and hazardous if exposed to the environment. When you dispose of it in the trash, the mercury can leach into the soil or water supplies, which can have a devastating impact on plants, animals, and people. Mercury is particularly hazardous to fish since the metal is readily absorbed by their tissues and can bioaccumulate up the food chain.

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Instead of throwing the thermometer in the garbage, these items can be deposited at an HHW facility.

3. FIRE AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS

When it comes to fire detectors, it is always important to check the manufacturer’s instructions to see what they recommend as a safe way to dispose of them. In some cases, they will have special disposal centers where they can be taken, or they can even be sent back to the manufacturer for proper disposal. As for carbon monoxide detectors, it is even more important that they are disposed of in the proper way since this is a dangerous and potentially deadly gas.

Simple safety precaution
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Remove the batteries from the devices, and contact the manufacturer for information on how to send the detector back.

4. BATTERIES

Throwing batteries in the garbage can be extremely hazardous for our environment. Batteries contain dangerous materials such as lead and mercury, and when these are thrown in the garbage, these dangerous elements are released into the atmosphere. Batteries can also contain harmful chemicals which, when thrown away, can leach into the soil, causing serious pollution and harm to our environment.

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Different kinds of batteries can be disposed of in different ways. Here are some guidelines for battery disposal:

Battery Type

Disposal Method

Alkaline, Lithium, Zinc-Carbon, and Zinc-Air Batteries

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Facilities

Rechargeable Batteries

Return to participating retail stores

Watch Batteries

Return to participating jewelry stores or HHW

Automotive Batteries

Return to auto parts store, mechanic, or dealership service department (they are required to take these batteries by law)

5. PAINT

When paint enters a landfill, it often contains chemicals that are both toxic and difficult to degrade. This can be hazardous to animals and people, both on land and in the water. Throwing paint away is also costly. Paint needs to be disposed of carefully and requires a hazardous waste container. Aside from its potential to harm the environment, disposing of paint improperly can also lead to clogged drains and waterways, and could lead to legal issues in some areas.

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If you have empty or near-empty cans of water-based latex paints, fill each can with sand or cat litter and place them in a regular recycling bin without the lids. Water-based paints can be recycled as you usually would.

6. OILS

Oils are difficult to break down and they can damage the natural environment by causing chemical imbalances and obstructing waterways. Once in a waterway, oils are unable to be filtered by existing cleaning processes. Oil can cause permanent damage to plants and animals living in the waterways and reduce their ability to reproduce. Oils that have been exposed to light or air for a long time will have higher chances of impacting aquatic life, as well as birds and mammals. Additionally, when oils enter the sewage systems, they can cause corrosion of pipelines and build-up of sludge, leading to expensive damages for local authorities.

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Additionally, avoid pouring cooking oils down the sink drain, as this can corrode or clog up your pipe systems. Instead, let the oil cool before pouring it into a disposable container, then place it in the trash.

7. CLOTHING

Non-biodegradable fabrics such as polyester, spandex, and nylon will never decompose, meaning the material of your clothes can take up valuable landfill space for hundreds of years.

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The best thing you can do with unwanted clothes is to donate them. If used clothing is beyond the point of donation, consider reaching out to eco-friendly clothing recycling programs to help you dispose of the items safely.

8. ELECTRONICS

Electronics contain toxic materials that can pollute the environment when improperly disposed of. Hazardous materials like mercury, lead, and cadmium can end up in groundwater and soil, threatening both animal and human health. Not only that but throwing out electronic waste can also be expensive in the long run. Instead of simply disposing of them in the garbage, look into ways to recycle or donate the devices.

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Electronic waste or “e-waste” should be brought to a local HHW or recycling center. Luckily, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compiled a list of locations and resources for e-waste disposal in the United States.

CONCLUSION

It can be easy to toss out old batteries or an ancient flip phone mindlessly. However, many household items and materials contain hazardous waste that can be detrimental to humans, animals, and the environment.

As a commercial property owner or homeowner, it’s crucial to understand the rules and regulations for recycling or disposing of dangerous substances.

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