Spring-cleaning? Toss things out safely
Is that half-empty bottle of brake fluid bringing you joy?
Before Marie Kondo has you loading items into the trash, make sure they aren’t hazardous.
Common products like pesticides, paint and many types of batteries all stay out of the garbage. Instead take them to a hazardous waste facility.
When you're loading up the car, keep products in their original containers, sealed, and upright to avoid dangerous mixes or spills.
Learn how to prep your hazardous load
Whether you’re spraying your dandelions, scrubbing the tub or even washing your hair, you’re probably doing it with the help of chemicals.
In fact, there are thousands of chemicals registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for commercial use in the U.S. But many have not been fully tested to understand potential effects on human health and the environment, and new chemicals continue to come into the marketplace. The agency is working to review those new chemicals—and some higher-priority existing ones.
But it the meantime, how do you know what is safe?
It’s one thing that many of these chemicals haven’t been tested for the products they’re used in. But, in many cases we don’t know what harm may be caused by the cumulative effect of using a variety of products throughout our lives says Carl Grimm, Metro senior solid waste planner.
“Most of the research is on single chemicals, and we are exposed to so many different ones every day,” says Grimm. “Looking at the ways chemicals interact is a new and growing area of study.”
But there’s no need to wait for the test results. Here are five ways to use fewer potentially toxic products and help protect your family and pets, and waterways and wildlife, too.
1) Make your own household cleaners
You can make your own cleaners with simple ingredients like baking soda and vinegar. Or check this list of greener cleaners that you can buy in stores. When dusting in the house, dry-dusting just pushes those pesky particles around. For a more effective approach, try vacuuming, and dusting with a damp cloth to help minimize particles in your household air.
2) Eliminate pesticides in your yard
Enjoy a great lawn without the pesticides. Instead of using chemical weed-and-feed products, try leaving your grass clippings after you mow to feed your soil. Over-seed to fill in spaces where weeds want to make their home. And, when you water, water the roots deeply—several inches down— to maintain a healthy lawn. When planting grass from scratch, consider using any number of drought-tolerant, native, or eco-lawn options.
3) Minimize your use of aerosol sprays
If you do need to use an aerosol-spray product, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated place. Use healthy alternatives to common aerosol products like oven cleaners, insecticides, hair sprays, and air fresheners. Come up with your own favorite air freshener recipe or try one of these.
4) Choose safer – and fewer – personal care products
Makeover your beauty routine by reducing the number of products you use on your body everyday—and, thus, the number of synthetic chemicals on your skin. And try to buy safer ones. Apps abound to help you find them. ThinkDirty and Healthy Living are two reliable ones that allow you to scan the barcode of any product while you shop. Instantly, you can learn about any product’s ingredients and find healthier options.
5) Tackle fleas without insecticides
Avoid bug bombs. Insecticides applied this way rarely work to control infestations. But they do cover your home with a layer of chemicals. Instead, wash floors and vacuum rugs, carpet and upholstery at least once a week. Try to establish one sleeping area for pets and use easily washable bedding. Regularly comb furry family members with a flea comb. If pesticide-free approaches have been unsuccessful, talk to your veterinarian about pills or injections of insect growth regulators. And check with Metro for more prevention and treatment options.
Is it safe?
Cutting down on household products that may be toxic can seem challenging. In many cases there are safer alternatives to those products, but you’ll also need to dispose of the hazardous ones safely.