So you’ve finally committed to decluttering and have even done the hard work of gathering everything that you no longer need or want. But the job isn’t complete until you have actually taken the stuff out of your house, which can be challenging if you’re not sure how to dispose of something properly. Here is a guide for safely getting rid of five perplexing items.
Water-based, latex paint can be dried out at home and put in regular household trash. Small amounts of paint will dry if you simply leave the lid off, but larger amounts require combining the unused paint with absorbent materials such as cat litter or sand. You can also buy paint hardener at a hardware store. Oil-based paint is considered household hazardous waste (HHW) and should never be thrown in the trash, even if it is dry. Instead, take oil-based paints to your local HHW facility for proper disposal.
Many of us have been told that it’s OK to flush unused or expired medication. Although that method of disposal is safe for some medications, there are better alternatives. Medicine “take-back” programs provide one easy solution and are often held multiple times throughout the year. Check the website of your local law enforcement agency for dates. If you don’t want to wait until the next take-back day in your community or need to dispose of your medication immediately, the site www.earth911.com recommends putting medication into a sealable plastic bag and adding water to dissolve the pills; add coffee grounds, kitty litter, sawdust or anything else unpalatable to prevent a child or a pet from being tempted by the contents. Seal it and throw it in the trash. Lastly, black out your personal information on the bottle with a marker or remove the prescription label before recycling it.
Household cleaning supplies
The best and most effective way to dispose of household cleaning supplies and chemicals is to use them or give them to someone who can. If neither is possible, it is safe to put most common household cleaners — such as water-soluble gels, liquids or powders — down the drain mixed with water; recycle the container if possible. For specialized compounds such as oven cleaners and furniture polish, check the label for instructions or contact your local recycling or household hazardous waste disposal center to see whether it will accept them.
VHS tapes, cassettes, CDs and DVDs
There are increasingly fewer options for donating VHS tapes and no real options for donating cassette tapes (and anyone under 25 has probably never even seen either one!), so the best option is to take them to your local dump for proper disposal. Check your local jurisdiction’s website to confirm that they accept both.
DVDs and CDs can still usually be donated to your local library or hospital, but call to confirm the facility wants them before making a trip. There are also websites that allow you to sell your CDs and DVDs online. A quick Internet search will help you find the best option for your needs.
Figuring out how to properly dispose of different types of batteries can be complicated. Every state but California allows you to put single-use alkaline batteries in the trash. They are recyclable, and most local recycling facilities accept them.
Rechargeable batteries must be recycled. They can be taken to your local waste facility or to a Best Buy — the stores accept rechargeable batteries weighing less than 10 pounds, as well as laptop batteries, battery back-ups and cellphone batteries.
Small “button cells” such as those found in hearing aids and watches contain silver oxide and mercury and must also be recycled. If you get a professional to replace these batteries, he or she will usually recycle the battery for you. If not, they can be taken to your local recycling facility, or Batteries Plus store, or in the mid-Atlantic region, a Mom’s Organic Market store. Check with your nearest location for the list of acceptable types.
If you still have questions, check out www.earth911.com for a comprehensive guide to safe battery disposal.
Household Hazardous Waste Facility
Sedgwick County’s household hazardous waste facility is located at 801 Stillwell, south of Kellogg off of Seneca. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
It accepts most chemicals, batteries and medications. Go to http://www.sedgwickcounty.org/environment/householdhazardouswaste.asp for more information.