Where is that trash can?

You know where it is. It’s in the kitchen, the bathroom, the garage. Trash cans (or garbage bins) are everywhere because in our normal routine during the day we generate waste. A lot of waste.

Most items we toss into the trash can are supposed to go there. Normal debris, paper items, leftover foods, among others. You know what we mean. Items like that paper filter full of coffee grounds that you just tossed a few minutes ago.

However, there are some items that shouldn’t automatically go into the trash can. Things that can contribute to the global issue of “hazardous waste.” No, not the nuclear or radioactive type. The hazardous waste that we all generate and should dispose of properly.

Common items that fall into this category are found throughout your home… in basements, under kitchen sinks, in the garage, in closets, and other places. These items can include cleaning products, paints, varnishes, automotive fluids, pesticides, batteries… even electronic items such as old computers that haven’t worked for years. A quick internet search shows a huge list of potential items you might toss in the trash can but should give second thought to doing so.

Some leftover household products that can be considered hazardous waste contain corrosive, toxic, flammable or other reactive elements. You might have, in the past, just thrown them away, to get rid of them. That’s human nature. You figure the disposal company knows what to do. You are right. But they don’t know what’s in the bags you set out. This means you can help by being a smart consumer.

Before throwing away items that could be potentially hazardous, think about how you can determine the best way of disposal. One way is to review labels on items you are throwing away. They should indicate the type of danger they pose and might even have disposal instructions. If the item recommends you wear gloves or eye protection, that’s a clue it could be hazardous waste. Another option is to ask your waste disposal or recycling company for instructions or perhaps contact information for appropriate local government agencies that can provide you with detailed information not only on what is common hazardous waste, but also on local disposal options, including locations you can use to take hazardous waste materials.

One thing you can be sure of. Your favorite cleaning company uses only safe, effective cleaning products when in your home. After all, it pays to call a pro!