Home and the Environment
Using, and Disposing of Household Chemicals
for disposing of household chemicals vary from place to place,
so always check with your local solid waste department first when
you have a disposal question. In Minneapolis, for example, there
are household hazardous waste stations where you can drop off
items. You pay for the service with a city-issued voucher. These
stations also run exchange programs so if you need just a small
amount of, say paint thinner, you can often find leftovers from
someone else's project that you can use.
best solution is to use it up or give it away. Paint the insides
of your closets—who cares what color they are! Offer it to the
community theater. If you still find you have paint to dispose
of, the method depends on the type of paint.
products, such as alkyd paint, are seldom allowed in the household
trash. Usually you must take leftovers and empty cans to a household
hazardous waste site.
of dried latex are still allowed into the household trash by most
areas. You can leave the lid off until the paint dries, or speed
up the process by mixing in cat litter or pouring the paint out
onto newspapers (make sure to put plastic underneath).
old elbow grease can take the place of stronger cleaning products.
less caustic homemade alternatives made from vinegar, baking soda,
borax, and ammonia. You'll find they clean just as well as commercial
products, cost less, and do less damage the finish on your furniture,
countertops, floors, etc.
for homemade cleaners are plentiful. Look in books, magazines,
and online. Here are a few to get you started:
vinegar water is great for cleaning cabinets, tile, and hardwood
clear slow drains, put ½ cup of baking soda in the drain followed
by a cup of vinegar and several cups of boiling water (great
for deodorizing disposers, too).
window washing, mix ¼ cup of ammonia in two quarts of water;
if the glass is really grimy, try ½ cup of ammonia, a pint
of rubbing alcohol, and a few drops of dishwashing soap in
a gallon of water.
you experiment, remember to never mix bleach and ammonia!
good news is that fluorescents reduce your electricity usage and
that the color of light has been drastically improved over the
last few years. You can now find compact fluorescent bulbs to
fit almost any lamp or fixture.
bad news is that many fluorescents contain a small amount of mercury.
For this reason, spent bulbs can not be put in the household trash
in many areas. Call your local utility or solid waste department
for information on disposal in your area. In Minnesota, for example,
you get a recycling voucher from your electrical utility and take
the spent bulbs to a store with an approved recycling program.
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