Dispose of household products safely

2016-06-30 06:00

IF you look through your home, you will probably find you have a lot of cans of leftover paint, unwanted bottles of pesticide and old batteries lying around because you may not be sure of how to dispose of them safely.

However, there are a few ways to dispose of these household items in the most eco-friendly way possible.

Pharmaceuticals

Take a look inside your medicine cabinet and you’re sure to find a few pills that are no longer needed or that have expired. Do not put them in the dustbin or flush them down the toilet, rather collect them all and safely dispose of them at your nearest pharmacy. Quite a few pharmacies have a large jar or safe disposal option for unwanted pharmaceuticals.

Batteries

If you have an old cellphone that still works, perhaps pass it on to someone else or consider donating it to someone who needs it. The most harmful component in a cell phone is the battery, and there are various drop-off points around the country for the safe disposal of used batteries.

Motor oil

For those of you who love to get your hands dirty, motor oil can be dropped off at most garages for recycling. Motor oil can be recycled and reused, which works towards cutting down on the use of fossil fuel and reduce environmental impact. Simply place the used motor oil in a clean plastic container with a tight lid. Never store this oil in a container that once held chemicals, food or beverages and don’t mix the oil with anything else.

Paint and paint products

When it comes to safe paint disposal, it is critical that it is done in a way that won’t cause pollution to drinking water or soil.

The problem in South Africa is that paint is mixed with general waste stream (rubbish bins) or chemicals from paint equipment and gets washed into storm water drains and ends up finding its way into natural waterways.

Solvent- or oil-based paint has a shelf life of more or less 15 years. If paint has been standing for a long time, test it first to see if it is still usable. If you can stir the paint, it is still good to use, but if there are lumps you should dispose of it properly.

Pour dry concrete or sand into the paint and stir. Let the paint stand outside for all solvents to evaporate. Once the paint is dry, peel the paint out with your hand and throw it away with normal waste.

After solidifying, paint will be a thick dough ready for disposal. Leftover solvent-based paint can be returned to any retail paint store and the store will send it to Plascon for safe disposal or get in touch with a waste management company to find your nearest drop off point.

Light bulbs

It is becoming increasingly difficult to buy incandescent light bulbs, but there are still homes using these energy inefficient bulbs.

There is no way of recycling these bulbs, other than using them for craft projects, so look at switching to CFL (compact fluorescent light) or LED lighting as the bulbs burn out.

While CFL bulbs are considered energy efficient, before taking these to a recycling centre, wrap them up so they don’t break on the way, as CFL bulbs contain small amounts of mercury. The next time you go shopping for household cleaners and pesticides, consider green products that won’t contaminate the Earth.

– Supplied.

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