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"How to Avoid Hazardous Waste in the Household" by Josh Trough, published January 2007

Household toxins in our environment are a hazard to all of us. The water we drink and the air we breathe should be protected against contamination from hazardous materials. We need to find alternative household products that are not dangerous to our environment. The first way to avoid hazardous materials is to limit consumption. If we do not purchase the toxic chemicals in the first place, then we avoid the need to dispose of these dangerous products.

Conservation is the best method to circumvent toxins in our homes. We need environmentally friendly options for common uses such as cleaning, painting, gardening and automobile service. There are many environmentally friendly paints that have replaced the oil and lead based paints of the previous century. Latex paints are not hazardous when dried so air dry the unused material and dispose of it in your household trash. Purchasing oil based paints when petroleum is becoming scarce is wasteful.

In the gardens there are many organic options to hazardous pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. New Hampshire's Organic Farming organization (NOFA - NH) provides information about organic vegetables, fruit, ornamental and lawn care. Visit their website at www.nofanh.org or call 603.224.5022 to learn more. Although many property owners pride themselves on a weed-free lawn, chemical herbicides and fertilizers cause damage to the life of the entire neighborhood. When it becomes dangerous for children to play in the grass after a chemical treatment, it is time to find alternatives.

From the garage we need to find safe substitutions to the hazardous materials used in brake & transmissions fluids, antifreeze, lubricants and degreasers. The automobile industry has used petroleum-based products for decades but we need to start anew with biodegradable alternatives like citrus degreasers and vegetable oil lubricants. There are many options for biodegradable household cleaners as well. Vinegar can be substituted for commercial window cleaners and vinegar and baking soda will clean ovens and carpet equally well.

If you do purchase hazardous materials to bring home to the family, please follow the directions for usage. Chemical companies know how much to apply to achieve the desired results. Applying twice as much does not doubly improve the performance of the product. When it comes to disposal, these dangerous chemicals should not be flushed, poured down the sink or emptied out in the backyard. It is illegal and amoral to dump these materials into the common water, soil and air.

There is a biannual option for hazardous waste disposal that is taxpayer supported. We pay for hazardous waste collection days twice every year. The Pemi-Baker Solid Waste district towns spent over $22,000 last year on these collection days. As a community, we are paying for the disposal rather than pay the future bill of polluted water, soil and air. By participating in the household hazardous waste collection day, we choose to keep our community clean and safe.

Bring hazardous waste in its original containers to the Rumney Transfer Station or Littleton Fire Department on June 24 from 9am - 1pm. Contact your local recycling center for year round collection programs for such items as paints, used oil, antifreeze, fluorescents and electronics.

Josh Trought is the Dorchester representative to the Pemi Valley Solid Waste Commission and Executive Director of D Acres of New Hampshire, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) Organic Farm & Educational Homestead in Dorchester. If you know of a local business that is making an effort to improve our local environment, or have an idea on how we can reduce the burden on our land fills, contact Josh at info@dacres.org or call 603.786.2366.


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