It seems to come up a lot that people aren't quite sure how to properly dispose of certain materials. While ideally, we're using less, some consumption is inevitable and the correct disposal of these things is environmentally crucial.
I've collected a list of things that don't belong in landfills, or regular municipal recycling
programs and found the right place for them. I'm sure these answers vary from one community to another, so feel free to jump in with your own answers in the comments.
Used computers and electronics
Computers release toxic substances into the landfills. First, ask yourself if the computer or other electronics can be re-used. If it can, go with that first. Consider Computers for Schools
, or other charitable organizations. If not, there are proper ways to recycle the metals where the toxic substances can be controlled. In Canada find your nearest Return-It-Electronics program
. Just drop it off on site and they take care of the rest.
Empty paint cans
Some areas have added paint cans as an item that can be recycled through your regular program. If you don't have this in your area, most paint stores will take them back and either re-use them or dispose of them properly.
Most regular batteries are not considered hazardous waste. They can be put in the trash. For batteries containing lithium, mercuric, oxide, nickel-cadmium, nickel metal hydride and silver oxide, you'll need to consider the toxins they may leak. Some cities have battery drop off spots at their recycling center. If you don't find it there, you'll find a drop center on most college or university sites, as well as many office supply stores.
When you buy new carpet ask the manufacturer or installer if they have a program for recycling old carpet. About 20-25% of a carpet can be recycled, and 3-5% re-used. These aren't perfect numbers, but there is a lot of research going on it this area to make recyclable carpeting options
. This is your best alternative because it is being recycled as much as possible and you don't have to struggle with getting rid of it yourself.
There has been a lot of press lately about recalled toys
and lunch boxes
. Many of them because they have toxic paint. Panicked parents quickly threw these out, but where do they end up, and what impact does that have? Instead of disposing of the toy yourself, it is recommended that you bring them back to the store where you bough them
. The companies are bound by law to dispose of them in an environmentally conscious way. If you cannot return the product, dispose of it the same way you would pain or other toxic substances.
If you had too much concrete delivered and you need to dispose of the excess, a dump is not your best option. Look up "concrete recycling" in your phone book and you'll likely find a number of places that will come and pick it up. They charge small fees, because they make money by breaking it up and selling it re-used. If you've got place to store it, keep it around. I'm sure you'll have another DIY project that you can somehow work concrete into.
If your last project left you with drywall in need to disposal then you'll find that it's going to cost a bit to do properly. Still, it's important that you do, because it is not an item that belongs in our landfills. First, you'll need to make sure that there is nothing else attached to your drywall. Clean sheets can be dropped off at local transfer stations. Check with your city for the limit and fee.
Car safety seats
If you need to dispose of a car seat, first consider giving it to someone in need. Remembering that it cannot be used after an accident and that most children's car seats expire after 5 years. If it cannot be reused, it can be recycled. You'll need to take it apart. Throw out the foam padding and other non-recyclable materials. Take it to your recycling center or leave it out for your curbside recycling pick-up. If you leave it out on the street, make sure you put a sign on it letting people know that it cannot be re-used.
Still have questions? If you're in Canada, check out The Disposal Experts
. Their focus is on disposing of things in environmentally friendly ways. Just submit your question and they'll do the research for you. If you live outside of Canada, you'll still find their basic information useful, but you'll want to look up your local equivalents.