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Good, Better, Best:

Dealing with Chemicals and Other Household Hazardous Waste

By Jonny Finity

Household hazardous waste (HHW) includes any product that is poisonous, reactive, corrosive, or flammable. This includes automotive fluids, fertilizers and pesticides, paints and stains, and many common household chemicals.

You can easily identify hazardous products by reading product labels. Look for key words such as Warning! Danger! Poison! and Caution! Improper disposal of hazardous materials is illegal—and it poses a risk to human health and the environment.

Good: Get rid of them properly

Keep all products in their original, labeled containers when possible, and pack upright in boxes. If a container is leaking, enclose it in another suitable container. Never mix chemicals.

The Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD) collects household hazardous waste at the Environmental Depot (1011 Airport Pkwy., South Burlington), and the Rover, CSWD’s mobile collection unit for household hazardous waste. The Rover visits every town in Chittenden County once per year. Find the schedule online at www.cswd.net/rover. Chittenden County residents can use both facilities at no charge; fees may apply to businesses and out-of-district residents.

Better: Use up what you have

CSWD operates programs to help residents and businesses responsibly dispose of household hazardous waste to make sure the environmental damage is reduced or eliminated. CSWD looks for reuse or recycling opportunities wherever possible, such as their Local Color program to produce high quality recycled latex paint. But it costs about half a million dollars per year to operate the program, and many of the products collected are transported across the country where they will sit in a landfill specially designed for hazardous wastes.

CSWD recommends that you use up the hazardous wastes you have, so you don’t need to dispose of them. Store them properly and use them according to the directions. If you no longer have a use for it, check with a neighbor or friend to see if someone else does.

Best: Reduce hazardous waste from the start

What’s the best way to avoid dealing with hazardous materials? Buy less of them.

  • Use non-toxic products where possible. Many types are widely available at grocery and hardware stores. The Environmental Working Group produces reputable info on products, including the Guide to Healthy Cleaning and Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (www.ewg.org).
  • Buy only what you need. Carefully measure the space you’re going to paint, stain, or clean to prevent over-buying.
  • Make your own greener cleaners! Search the web for thousands of recipes.

Jonny Finity is the Marketing and Communications Manager for Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD).

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