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Detox your home

There are more than a few homes that have cans of leftover paint, unwanted bottles of pesticide and even old batteries lying around simply because no one knows how to dispose of them safely. Here are a few tips on how to safely dispose of 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. Putting them in the dustbin or flushing down the toilet is not a safe option. 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

Not sure what to do with an old cellphone? If it still works perhaps you could pass it on to someone else, or even consider donating it to someone who needs it. The most harmful component in any cellphone is the battery, and there are various drop-off points around the country for the safe disposal of used batteries.

Cosmetic and grooming products

Not something you would normally think about when applying your lipstick, but before you throw out makeup containers bear in mind that most of these are made of plastic or glass - both of which can be recycled. Separate these and drop off at your local glass or plastic recycling bin.

Motor oil

For those of you who love to get your hands dirty - note that 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. Place 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.

Gas cylinders

If you are looking to replace your own gas cylinder, take it along to the dealer, or get in touch with the manufacturer, and you should be able to include an exchange in the deal and cut down on the cost of a new gas cylinder at the same time. Gas cylinders are considered hazardous materials and, as such, will not be allowed on dumping sites. Scrap metal dealers might also accept used tanks for recycling.

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 is that in South Africa, 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 probably still good to use. But if there are lumps you should dispose of 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 away with normal waste.

After solidifying, paint will be a thick dough ready for disposal. Left over 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 increasing 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 or LED lighting as the bulbs burn out.

While CFL (compact fluorescent light) 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. 

Cleaners and Pesticides

Toxic cleaners and pesticides are harmful to the environment. They not only poison our water supply, they also kill animals and fish. These products cannot be recycled and the only safe disposable option is to take them to a recycling centre for proper disposal. And the next time you go shopping for household cleaners and pesticides, consider green products that won't contaminate our earth.

 

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