Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Love... for the earth

Let's suppose everyone really is writing in honor of Valentine's Day about: love, break ups, relationship dislikes, and likes. You don't want to read another post like that, do you? Nah! Like a bad break up in our household, my husband may say that I hold on to too many things. I would counter that, I see uses, reuses, or proper disposal for many things. Driving past the giant Milam landfill on our way from Saint Louis to Chicago, and passing the closed Greene Valley landfill turned forest preserve can only weigh on my mind. One item I'm happy to drop off this week is Evan's expired Epipen! A simple internet search turned up a hospital where medications and needles are accepted for safe disposal.

photo credit: http://www.wedoitallforkids.com/?p=1776

5 Loves for the Earth

The items below are common household items - and many contain hazardous materials like mercury, other metals, acid, medication or sharp needles. Do you have some of these around?

1 - Recycle Carbon Water Filters

I love filtered water, especially in an almost 100 year old apartment with all kinds of plumbing, but where to recycle all those carbon water filters?? I may or may not have been holding on to some for almost 6 months, unwilling to throw them in the trash... Here's the scoop on drop off recycling via Brita's partner Preserve. There's also mail recycling available. Our house never uses throw away water bottles (we have reusable water bottles), but if you use them, you can recycle the bottle and bottle cap (see below).

2 - Recycle Dead Batteries and Light Bulbs

There is a old shoe box home for these at our place. Let's face it: electronic toys get low parental votes in our house, but our kids love some of them, and dead batteries accrue quickly. Also, living in an apartment doesn't always make me inclined to buy CFL or other energy efficient lighting for permanent light fixtures. Although, I supposed we could use energy efficient bulbs while we're here, and switch out when we move. In any case, we have light bulbs of all kinds from only less than a year in Saint Louis. Many hardware stores (small franchise and big box) accept CFL bulbs and batteries of all types, from automotive to AA and lithium ion rechargeable. Search here for a center.

3 - Reuse Produce Bags and Plastic Bags

Have you seen parents swiping unused grocery store rolls of produce bags for their kids' diaper pails? Yup, I've really seen it. Great to reuse for doggy doo and diaper disposal (although the bags are a little large for the task) to keep E coli and other fecal bacteria from contaminating water supply in yards and via landfill run off. Making reusable, machine washable tulle produce bags in on my sewing to do list. The tulle, grosgrain, and test bag just sit there, mocking me, as I use more and more plastic produce bags. There are always more than our household can reuse in trash cans. Local grocery stores with bag recycling will take produce and all kinds of plastic bags!

4 - Properly Dispose of Electronics of all kinds, and CDs and DVDs

Congrats, you may have already checked the trade-in value, attempted to attract a buyer, or found someone who wants your usable older electronic items! If you're like me, there are more than a few single burn CDs or scratched and unusable discs that have no more life in them. I'm holding onto a couple to tie up above the garden to scare birds away once fruit is set (the light glints as the wind spins them, scaring birds off). And the kids have one that they can touch; they're so curious about CDs and DVDs, but I don't appreciate fingerprints on mine. Best Buy will accept drop offs of many difference kinds of electronics. Your VHS and cassette tapes have likely already been donated or recycled, but in case you still have a large collection, you may want to look into Greendisk for VHS and tapes, which charges a reasonable fee.

5 - Five is for #5 Plastics

Cold, hard fact: we're 8 weeks into winter. You bet I'm starting to plan my garden! And that has me thinking about seed starting containers. Once those seedlings grow 2-4 sets of leaves, they need to be potted up, or moved into larger containers for root development. What better than 8oz and 32oz yoghurt and margarine containers? #5 polypropylene plastic is hard to recycle, and is often used in yoghurt and margarine tubs. Use a nail and hammer to poke drainage holes, wash in hot soapy water, and save for seedlings. Of course, the Gimme 5 Preserve recycling campaign is aimed at those #5 plastics of all types. And Aveda will accept bottle caps (often made of #5 plastic) of most styles.

Where to store these, until drop off is possible?


  • Close to where the item is used.
  • We have a metal shelf between the fridge and radiator. On top is our recycling bucket that holds items until we toss them into our large curbside recycling container. On the middle shelf is the mop bucket and large white cardboard scraps (for the kids to paint when in the mood). On the bottom shelf is a large bag for all plastic bags. I'll be adding an old shoe box for bottle caps and those Brita filters this week. You know, the filters that have been sitting next to the sink for months... In a small kitchen, under the sink may be a good place for that #5 plastics box.
  • This vintage apartment has a hallway cleaning closet with shelves, where we keep our vacuum, fresh batteries and new lightbulbs, and iron. It makes sense to keep the dead batteries and lightbulbs next to where I'l be reaching for a new one. They await recycling in an old shoe box.
  • Recycle a large container, like shoe box, pet treat bin, detergent tub, etc to hold other recyclables. Seriously, storage doesn't need to match or look like a Martha Stewart closet.

What do you do to recycle and properly dispose of hazardous waste at your house?

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