Americans produced 243 million tons of nonhazardous garbage in 2009, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. And 54.3 percent of that waste ended up in the nation's landfills (see References 1). By recycling and composting as much waste as possible, individuals can reduce their annual contribution to landfill clutter.
Many products commonly found around the house qualify as hazardous waste and are potentially harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly. The U.S. Department of Energy characterizes hazardous waste as a substance that is toxic, corrosive, reactive or ignitable (see References 3). Household chemicals such as motor oil, cans of leftover paint and cleansers and items such as batteries and fluorescent or ...
The term "hazardous waste" refers to any material or substance known to pose a risk to human health or to the environment. In the United States, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a federal law enacted by Congress in 1976, governs the identification, collection and disposal of hazardous waste (see References 1). Hazardous waste management directives to the Environmental Protection Agency are outlined in ...
Native wildlife is what makes your area special. A common animal like a squirrel or deer is just one part of a complex system of predators and prey that have evolved and adapted to thrive where you live. Biodiversity is important to the health of the planet; smaller, local ecosystems often connect to larger ones, and the loss of one seemingly unimportant species can cause large-scale regional collapses. Protect your ...
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Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent lightbulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Although they are better for the environment in terms of energy use, CFLs do have a major downside: they contain mercury, a toxic element that can cause serious health problems if it escapes from the bulb because of breakage. Properly disposing of CFLs is crucial to prevent contamination of your home. (See References 1.)
The proper handling of hazardous waste -- whether in the form of reuse, recycling or safe disposal -- helps prevent accidental environmental contamination, while reducing the United States' dependence on raw materials and the energy needed to make new products. Household hazardous wastes, such as paints, oils, antifreeze, cleaners and pesticides should never be poured down the sink or dumped on the ground. Citizens should not put out any of these products, or those that contain mercury or other heavy metals, for landfill-bound garbage collection. (See References 1)
American school children throw out millions of pounds of lunch packaging and waste each year (see References 1, 4). With nearly 50 million students in the nation's elementary and secondary schools, trash piles up fast (see References 5). By packing a waste-free lunch, children learn practical ways of conserving resources while schools save on disposal costs. Waste-free lunches are also economical, relying on bulk foods and reusable packaging to cut down on trash.
A brown bag lunch can produce a staggering amount of waste -- leftover foods, plastic bottles and packaging and the brown bag itself. Packing a waste-free lunch for your child makes a significant difference, saving 67 pounds of trash and $250 dollars from your wallet during the school year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (see References 1). Save yourself money and benefit the environment by packing nutritious and environmentally friendly lunches for school, work, traveling and picnics.
Non-biodegradable waste made up roughly one-third of the municipal solid waste produced in the U.S. in 2009 (see References 1, page 6). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends recycling whenever possible, and disposing of your trash at a combustion facility or in a landfill only when recycling is not possible (see References 1, page 11). Hazardous waste should be handled separately by your local sanitation department or by private companies that specialize in safe disposal of toxins (see References 2).
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) place the energy efficiency of large fluorescent light fixtures into a compact bulb that is compatible with most sockets. The disadvantage of CFLs is that they contain the toxic element mercury, which can cause contamination, health problems and even poisoning in sufficient doses. CFLs must be safely disposed of at specialized recycling centers or hazardous waste facilities, not simply thrown in the garbage.
Before implementing complex strategies to make your office eco-friendly, start with a few simple changes to create less waste in the first place. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, waste reduction offers the greatest environmental benefits and cost savings to organizations. By evaluating its current practices, your office can likely find ways to reduce energy consumption and trash volume -- not to mention purchasing costs -- all while helping the environment. (See References 2)
Paint samples save you money by allowing you to test a few ounces of a color for only a few dollars rather than purchasing an entire gallon or more. As with larger containers of paint, if paint samples aren't handled in the correct manner after a project has been completed, the paint can end up polluting the environment, causing damage to soil and water. Some cities may also have laws against disposing of paint in the garbage regardless of the container size. Whether a few ounces or several gallons, all paint must be disposed of properly.
Tires represent a serious environmental concern on several fronts. Part of the risk lies with their chemical makeup. Toxins released from tire decomposition, incineration or accidental fires can pollute the water, air and soil. While 42 states regulate tire disposal to some degree, eight states have no restrictions on what you must do with your discarded tires. Even with laws in place, illegal dumping still occurs, presenting negative environmental impacts. (See Reference 1)
The Environmental Protection Agency defines a hazardous waste as a toxic, corrosive or flammable substance that could harm our health or the environment (References 1 and 4). Whether it is fresh or spent, acetone is flammable and therefore a form of hazardous waste (References 2 and 3). When working with acetone, it is important to know how to store it, how to work with it safely and how to discard it properly.
Proponents of compact fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs, have touted them as an effective way to cut energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Energy Star estimates that a CFL uses 75 percent less energy to produce the same light as an incandescent bulb. Add that reduced energy use to a much longer life expectancy than a conventional bulb, and a CFL may save you $40 over the course of its useful life. While the savings may benefit you and the environment, CFLs carry an environmental cost and a health risk, albeit a slight one. You should be aware of several things as you make the switch to energy-efficient bulbs. (References 1)
Unused house paint looks harmless in its sealed container. However, you can't dispose of it by dumping the closed paint can in the trash. When paint buckets eventually rupture in landfills, they can release petrochemical solvents and other environmental toxins into the soil. Instead of dumping unused paint, you can donate it to an appropriate charity or a community theater group. If this isn't an option, and you need to dump the paint, you will need to do more than carry it out with your curbside trash.
Gray water includes any used water that is nontoxic, such as water used for bathing that contains biodegradable soap residue (see References 1). Gray water disposal laws vary across the U.S., depending on the specific park or forest where you're camping. Check regulations ahead of time to ensure you bring all necessary supplies. When in doubt, call the campground or department in charge of overseeing the area so you can honor the local laws.
Despite its name, lacquer thinner isn't simply used for thinning lacquers. This acrid smelling fluid also serves as an all-purpose industrial cleaner, as an industrial strength degreaser and as a paint and varnish remover. However, any chemical solution strong enough to handle all of those jobs must have plenty of chemical kick behind it, and that's why lacquer thinner provides some serious disposal issues.
By bringing reusable grocery bags to supermarket checkout lanes shoppers say "No" to the checker's question about whether they want paper or plastic bags. Yet other questions faced in the produce aisle may be harder to answer, such as ways to avoid plastic bags, how well biodegradable plastics decompose and whether to bite the budget and purchase reusable mesh bags. The ultimate question for many eco-minded shoppers may be what mesh bags to buy.