In our busy world, we accumulate, use, and throw away more than ever. Now we’re aware of the need to conserve the planet’s resources, and recycling facilities are more widely available, we can dispose of our unwanted goods responsibly, but there are still certain things which need special treatment. Here are a few items to be disposed of safely.
1. Obsolete Electronics
No sooner have we got the latest ‘must-have’ electronic gadget than there’s a newer, better model. However, obsolete or broken electronics can contain harmful components like mercury and lead, and are items which must be disposed of safely. Many manufacturers and retailers provide options to donate or recycle your electronics, so look for suppliers which offer this, or check out websites such as EcoSquid, Earth911, and DigitalTips for more information.
2. Plastic Bags
Every time we buy anything, we seem to end up with another plastic bag. And most of us do our best to find other uses for them, such as bagging other recyclables. Sadly, handlers can be at risk if they open the bags, and if the plastic gets into the equipment, it can cause damage or breakdown. So if you can’t find any use for the bags round the house, take them to the supermarket, where they have collection bins and the items can be disposed of safely.
You’ve finished painting your bedroom, and you’ve just about got the paint off your hands. But unfortunately paint never comes in exactly the right quantities. Leftover paint can’t just be left in your usual recycling bin, and it can contain harmful chemicals, so you can’t just pour it away, so it must be disposed of safely.
The best solution is to order the right quantity in the first place (the instructions on the back of the tin should help). If you have a significant amount left, seal the lid tightly, store upright in a safe place and use it later, or donate it to a friend or a local community scheme. If the tin is almost empty, you should let it dry out by leaving it outside with the lid off. When the can is completely dry, it will be accepted at your local recycling centre as scrap metal.
4. Food Containers
Convenience foods and takeaways have become a part of life. But at the end of the evening, those pizza boxes and take-out containers are still there, and most of them can’t be recycled. Many have been coated to add strength or retain heat, and coatings such as foil, gloss, wax or lacquer contain non-recyclable elements. In addition, it’s impossible to separate the paper fibres the containers are made of from the oils and food particles. These items must just go into the household rubbish. But some containers, cereal boxes, and eggboxes for instance, can be recycled, and nowadays, most packaging carries some sort of recycling information.
5. Cooking Oil and Grease
It’s your turn to cook, but after you produce your culinary masterpiece, you’re left with cooking oil or grease, which needs to be disposed of safely. If you pour it away, it will build up in drains and sewer pipes causing blockages and damage. Small amounts can be placed in sealed unbreakable containers and put into the household trash.
Has your washing machine finally given up on you? Fridge no longer cool? It’s time to replace your appliances, but how do you dispose of the old items safely? Old appliances release refrigerants, insulating foams and other harmful agents into the atmosphere and you can be fined for not disposing of them properly.
Many suppliers will take away your old appliance when they deliver the new one. Alternatively, ask your city council about the rules where you live. But if your appliance is still working, you might be able to donate it to someone who needs it. Inquire at your chuch or in charity shops.
Mirrors are made of heat-strengthened material. They melt at a higher temperature than regular glass items, so they won’t melt properly during the standard recycling process. The best thing you can do is donate old mirrors to your local thrift store, where someone may be able to re-cut or recondition them, and sell them on to benefit a good cause.
8. Old Mattresses and Pillows
You’ve tossed and turned for many a year on that faithful old mattress, and you’ve beaten the pillows into submission. They’re marked and saggy, and it’s time to replace them. But how do you dispose of them safely? The law often restricts refurbishment and resale of used mattresses and pillows for health reasons, and many older mattresses don’t meet current regulations on fire safety either. But there is someone who can make good use of your old mattress – take it to an animal shelter, where it can be used for animal bedding.
So you are now up-to-date on how to dispose of these 8 unwanted items safely. Tell us about the things you’re saying goodbye to, and tell us how you’re doing it.
Top image source: fourgreensteps.com