First, let me apologize about being so sporadic with my entries, but my 12 week old doesn't like to let me get too much work done, so I have to fit a lot of things into short amounts of time. Second, my thought of the day is household hazardous waste. I know - sounds scary, but most people really do have hazardous waste in their homes without even thinking about it as hazardous. What brought this to mind was the lawn guy coming to clear our irrigation lines for the winter. Yes, it's time to put the lawn mowers and weed wackers to rest for a few months, but do you really want them sitting around in your garage or shed all winter with gasoline inside?
Casual exposure to gasoline fumes are irritating to your lungs and can cause nervous system effects like dizziness and headaches. So, why not get rid of the unused gasoline and start fresh in the spring? Since gasoline is considered a household hazardous waste (HHW), it must be disposed of properly which consists of taking it to local organizations that accept it. Luckily, in both Cape May and Atlantic Counties in New Jersey (my work area) the local utilties hold household hazardous waste disposal days throughout the year for residents of their county. The ACUA (Atlantic County Utilities Authority) now holds 7 HHW daysa year, bi-monthly plus an extra one in October. The CMCMUA (Cape May County Municipal Utilites Authority) has two drop-off days per year - one in Fall and one in Spring. Both of these facilities collect gasoline and other fuels, and I confirmed with ACUA that they even accept gasoline mixed with oil as from a weed wacker. I didn't confirm with CMCMUA, but I would assume they accept it mixed as well. Of course, there are so many items considered HHW and you can check with the sites of the two facilities for exhaustive lists (acua.com and cmcmua.com), but here are a few:
- traditional household cleaning products (if you already choose natural alternative products -yeah for you!)
- paint thinners and solvents
- pesticides and herbicides
- glues and adhesives
- pool chemicals
- mercury containing devices (Flourescent bulbs, Compact Flourescent Lights (CFLs), older thermometers and thermostats)
and the lists go on. Please understand that it is important to do our part and properly dispose of these items or the toxins can pose a threat to the environment and our health. It's simple to do, especially if you are residents of these counties that provide such great services.
Another thing you can do before next spring... since you've already gotten that gasoline out of the house, switch to an electric mower. No, you don't have to worry about having a cord to run over because there are now choices for battery-powered, cordless electric mowers. Using an electric mower helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because the only fossil fuels being burned are those that are burned at the power generating station to charge the battery for the electric mower and not directly from the source. I have read varying reports that say that running a gas mower for 1 hour produces air pollution equivalent to driving a car anywhere from 20 miles (2003 USEPA study) to 100 miles (2001 Swedish study). At least power plant emissions are controlled and the user is not directly inhaling them.
Just a thought if you are in the market for a new mower, why not go electric? Also, less risk of spilling gasoline from those portable containers (a very common occurrence that is polluting). But, don't forget to properly dispose of that battery when the time comes or you could be polluting in a different way.