Managing Hazardous Household Waste

June 29, 2015

Managing hazardous household waste is a community challenge and every one of us can be a part of the solution. Did you know that the average household contains between 3 and 10 gallons of materials hazardous to humans, pets, and the natural environment? Whether it’s keeping fats, oils, and grease out of drains, putting trash in the trash can instead of the toilet, or even picking up after your pet, it’s critical that we all work to protect the world’s natural resources and our water supply.

The dilemma is often not knowing just what to do with the hazardous household waste we create as much as it is in reducing the overall amount. To help, Eco News Network offers these tips and a helpful chart from the Water Environment Federation.

Sustainability_HouseholdWasteChart copy

Courtesy of the Water Environment Federation.

Many of the things in your home that are hazardous household waste may not be the ones you suspect. Polishes, greases, prescription medication, and personal care products can damage the environment if not disposed of correctly. Obvious things such as paint and paint thinner, batteries, and chemical cleaners are also often tough to get rid of responsibly if you don’t know where to turn.

What some people decide to do is dump these hazards down the sink without thinking about the fact that the drain will take them ultimately into our precious water supply.

So sustainability really does start at your sink. Here are a few simple suggestions that can help you reduce and dispose of hazardous materials safely.

  1. Read the label. Make sure that the product you buy will do the job you intend it to do because once you own it you are also responsible for its safe disposal.
  2. Read and follow all directions on how to use the products you buy and how to dispose of them.
  3. Buy natural, environmentally safe products whenever possible
  4. Check with your town or recycling/waste provider to see what hazardous household waste they take and when. Often they have special days for paint, batteries, or other hazardous materials. Waste Management for example has information on their website for customers about what can be recycled and where.
  5. Never burn or dispose of any chemical or hazardous waste by pouring it down the drain, sewer, or on the ground
  6. Recycle everything you can. When in doubt contact your recycling provider or your town Department of Public Health for more information.

For more information you can also visit the public information page of the Water Environment Federation website at

-JE Forbes

Household Waste Chart provided by the Water Environment Federation. The information in the chart is intended as a general guideline. Laws and regulations may vary from state to state so always contact your area’s solid and hazardous waste department or environmental agency to double check what the specific disposal guidelines are for your area.







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