Hazardous waste is any waste material that is corrosive, inflammable, chemically unstable, or contains an excessive amount of toxins. These waste materials cannot be disposed of with regular trash, because they will end up in landfills and cause immediate or long-term damage to human and animal health. All of us have a contribution in the generation of hazardous waste. A few simple changes in the products we use can result in a sizable reduction in hazardous waste, which in turn can save the environment.
1. Avoid the Use of Commercial Household Cleaners
The cleaners and laundry detergents most of us rely on are major culprits in the generation of hazardous waste. These materials contain a generous amount of chemicals that are unsafe to human health when used in excessive amounts. Use household ingredients such as vinegar, pure soap, lemon juice, cornstarch, borax and baking soda to clean your home safely and effectively. You can also use these ingredients to clean dishes, do laundry and clean the bathroom.
2. Use Natural Compost as Fertilizer
Use vegetable and fruit peels, coffee and tea grounds, cut grass and clippings from plants to make your own compost. In most cases, homemade compost gives better fertilization results than commercial products. It is also safe for the environment. Avoid the use of pesticides and fertilizers, as they form hazardous waste if left in landfills. Compost also contributes to the killing of weeds, making it an excellent substitute for toxic weed killers.
3. Avoid the Use of Pesticides
By selecting disease-resistant varieties of plants, you can minimize the requirement of pesticides in your backyard. Use natural alternatives such as garlic, onion and soap to control pests. You can also make a pest-repellent spray with these ingredients and apply it on your plants.
4. Use Water Based Paints
Avoid the use of oil-based paints, because they contain solvents and require the use of thinners, both of which constitute hazardous waste.
5. Avoid Using Toxic Drain Cleaners
Drain cleaners that eat away at the clogs inside drains are usually highly toxic. Use alternatives such as a sewer snake or a plunger to unclog drains. You can also prevent clogging by using a strainer and by pouring boiling water down the drain 3 to 4 times a month.
6. Use Natural Alternatives for Floor and Metal Polish
Furniture, metal and floor polishes and varnishes are also toxic chemicals. Use lemon oil or olive oil in combination with vinegar or lemon juice to polish furniture. You can polish metals with baking soda or vinegar and salt.
7. Dispose of any Hazardous Waste Safely
Dispose of hazardous waste in accordance with the regulations in your locality. Most places have special hazardous waste disposal units open, where you can drop off items such as unused household cleaners, fluorescent bulbs, batteries, pesticides, herbicides, sealants, polish, paint thinner, solvents, varnish and oil-based paints.
8. Keep Insects under Control with Natural Means
Insect repellent sprays and lotions are unfavorable to the environment and to human health. Use natural alternatives such as citronella oil instead. When you are outdoors, avoid attracting insects with scented lotions or perfumes.