Reducing the hazardous waste in landfills begins at home. Millions of households are producing billions of pounds of solid waste. Products used every day in our homes leach hazardous chemicals after entering landfills. We all realize there is a growing problem but nobody likes to admit that their garbage is contributing to the problem.
Here in Iowa City, we have a recycling program for paper, plastic, glass, etc. These are the most “well known” items that people associate with when they remove recycling items from their trash. Next time you go to sort your trash consider a few other items that don’t belong and make a plan to store and recycle them in the New Year.
One household product that is a toxic causing problem are throwaway batteries. Each year Americans throw away 84,000 tons of alkaline batteries. Sealed inside these AA, C and D cells are mercury and other toxins that eventually leach into the environment. The problem of batteries is the easiest one to solve: stop buying products that require batteries, use only rechargeable batteries for gadgets you can’t live without, and properly dispose of them.
Another household product to often thrown away are toner and inkjet cartridges. Every year more than 400 million of these are sent to the landfill. It takes about three quarts of oil to produce just one cartridge; that’s approximately 300 million gallons of oil annually, wasted. Lucky me and lucky you, we can keep these in a box and decide what organization to donate them too. Those cartridges are recycled through public schools almost everywhere and benefits their fundraising efforts.