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Eco-challenge #11 Results: Feeling just a wee bit lighter

01.18.10 Eco-challenge #11 Results: Feeling just a wee bit lighter

massive amounts of cell phones

Loved this challenge. I mean…when you’re trying to reboot your life for a new year, what’s better than a great big purge session?

Eco-challenge #11: Dispose of/Recycle unwanted toxic and unsafe products around the house

Sadly, just like what I found during the toxic toy and teether challenges, much the information out there was contradictory, leaving me pretty confused. But I guess that's why they call it a challenge, right? Here are a few things I learned. I hope I can inspire you to finally get rid of that big box of crap in your basement!


  • Earth911.com - Enter in what you want to recycle and your zip and it pulls up a list of local sites. Very handy. 


  • BATTERIES - TO TRASH OR NOT TO TRASH? Ugh. This one was frustrating because some sites say to throw regular household batteries in with the trash, and others say you should treat as hazardous household waste. To be safe, I decided to drop them off at my local hazardous waste disposal center. FYI – most (if not all) other types of batteries should be considered hazardous so why not just lump them all together and be on the safe side?
  • BABY BOTTLES - THE DEBATE ROLLS ON My little guys are down to one bottle a day at bedtime, which means I was finally able to dump the lion share of my bottle collection! (FYI - still using greentogrow and lifefactory - love them) For me, it was a no-brainer to donate the BPA-free ones to a local homeless shelter. But I didn't know what to do with the BPA bottles? As this string shows, that’s not an easy decision. Do the potential dangers of BPA outweigh the pros of providing basic care to a child in need? It’s a toughy. But in the end, I decided to donate all of them and they were THRILLED to accept them. I guess I just have a hard time throwing something away that can make a huge difference in someone's life. Plus, that's a decision for every mother to make on their own. My two cents. 
  • COMPACT FLUORESCENT LIGHT BULBS - HANDLE WITH CARE...OR ELSE!  When I heard CFLs last for years, I was sold. For the most part, that has been true in my house but there are a couple that haven’t gone the distance. The good news is, it’s really easy to get rid of them if they’re still intact. Home Depot took mine. The bad news is if they break...welcome to hell.  Instructions like "vacate the area, ventilate the room for 15 minutes or more, shut off the central air" don't bring me much comfort. Here’s a great post about the ridiculous (but necessary) clean-up rules that a friend of mine wrote for Huff Post. Suffice to say, I’m handling these puppies with extreme care from now on – and you should too!
  • CELL PHONES/ACCESSORIES - UGH! WHERE DID THESE ALL COME FROM? I’m completely disgusted by the amount of old cell phones and accessories I had lying around. SO much money down the drain in such a short amount of time. Thankfully, there are several orgs that put these things to good use. For the phones, I chose to donate to organization called HopePhones.org. They use the money they get from recycling phones to provide new phones to medical clinics in foreign countries. These clinics give the phones to distant patients, ensuring they receive emergency care and regular health updates via SMS. In many instances, a phone could mean the difference between life and death. For the chargers I chose CellPhonesForSoldiers which, unlike many other services, gladly accepts all cell phone accessories. More than a worthwhile cause. THANK YOU THANK YOU! 
  • TOYS - OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH (TOO MANY) NEW!  During the toxic toy challenge, I put together two boxes of toys to donate/pitch – 1) non-toxic AND 2) I-have-no-idea-so-I-will-call-them-toxic.   The non-toxic box was taken straight to GoodWill, but the “toxic” toys were a problem. OF COURSE, the info out there is again, conflicting and confusing! According to the EPA –“consumers should dispose of their lead-contaminated toys in the same manner that they discard ordinary household trash.” BUT won’t that cause more problems? After reading tons of info I threw the "toxic" toys in with the batteries and took to my local hazardous recycling center. Better to be safe than sorry I guess. (p.s. If you want to feel like the sky is falling – check out the info about disposing of PVC here. Yikes! I think I'll pass.)  

Ok, I’m done now. I feel cleansed. 

Oh - and if you’re not still sure of how to dispose of something…just send to me. I’ll leave it out when I go to run errands and my dog will make sure it’s gone before I even get out of the driveway.

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