It’s one of my faults. I tend to collect things that are leftovers from various inside and outside projects. I convince myself that I could use them someday.
Sometimes that works out; many times it doesn’t. OK, let’s be real! MOST of the time it doesn’t turn out well.
Most of us gardeners are “hands on” type people. I do my own oil changes and maintenance on our Kubota tractor. When I do, there’s a significant amount of waste oil and antifreeze that needs to be disposed of properly.
We do remodeling and repainting projects in our house from time to time, and I build furniture and other woodworking projects. This generates a lot of sawdust (which my compost pile hungrily consumes). But, I also have left over partial containers of glues, paints and varnishes.
It doesn’t end there. We also generate half-empty containers of pesticides, insecticides and herbicides from all of our veggie, orchard and ornamental efforts. And, what about cordless tool and tractor batteries?
Recently, we made the decision to finish our basement restroom. These types of projects create a ripple effect. You see, that unfinished restroom became a storage room. As we began to clean it out, the ghosts of past avoidances came back haunt me.
That’s when the one-eyed monster roared to life again, glared at me, begging to be cleared out so the tradespeople could get to work. It was a CRT (cathode ray tube) television, one of the biggest you could buy before the now-common flat panel TV. Our old type of TV is ANYTHING but a flat screen. Flat screens are not only flat, but light, too!
In contrast, my obsolete TV is square-ish, has no place to readily get a secure grip on it, and is almost too bulky to get through a household door without leaving copious amounts of knuckle flesh on door jambs.
This fiend is ridiculously, nay, obscenely HEAVY, and we must lift it up a flight of stairs. It became clear to me at this point why I rationalized leaving it in the basement. It seemed like such a good idea.
But, the day of reckoning came. Rob, my son-in-law, happened to come by, and was instantly caught in the gravitational pull to get our beast upstairs. It was an experience neither one of us would want to repeat. After a lot of panting, puffing, muttering, epithets, pulled muscles and sweat, we placed it in the back of the truck.
But what to do with it? It’s heavy, obsolete, and not guaranteed to work. Neither Deseret Industries, Good Will nor the Calvary Thrift store would take it. Nor should they.
Wahoo for the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day, held every year on the first Saturday in May! Tuesday’s Transcript had a front page feature on the event. To be honest, I hadn’t used this service before. But, I was sure keen to do so this year. I saw the event ad, and put it on my calendar about a month ago. I’m glad I did!
While I had been taking my used oil to a local auto parts suppliers, I had built up an impressive (euphemism for “embarrassing”) stockpile of gardening chemicals, old paint, and electronics. It wasn’t difficult to assemble a load of materials that needed to be disposed of responsibly.
Off Maggie and I went at about 10 a.m. to hand off all our “treasures.” As we turned the corner on the street leading to the Clean Harbors facility east of the Northpointe Medical Complex, we encountered a long line of like-minded folks.
Confession time. My first reaction was irritation. I just wanted to drop off my items and be on my way. Then, the adult in me stepped forward to recognize this was a great thing that we were seeing. There were other like-minded people—lots of them, all making sure that hazardous materials were handled well!
It was a positive experience, too. The line moved at a reasonable pace, the check-in people were friendly and seemed genuinely glad we participated. The processing team swarmed around our vehicle, quickly ferreting our various items off to appropriate areas. They even emptied my waste oil container and promptly brought it back to our truck.
When it came time to unload my basement monster, it was handled quickly, efficiently and cheerfully. The dragon had been slain. Just who are these people, anyway?
I had to find out. So, I talked briefly to Jamie at Clean Harbors who indicated that they contract with the county Health Department. Clean Harbors is an international company with over 15,000 employees, and they have a facility here in our area.
I told her that I was impressed with both how the program was run and the team on duty that day. Jamie appreciated the compliment and referred me to Bryan Slade, Environmental Health Director at the Health Department. Bryan has been a part of that organization for almost 25 years, and the annual household hazardous materials collection day has been going for over 20 years!
The event used to be held at the Health Department Building (where the USU Extension office is, at 151 N. Main) in cooperation with Tooele City, but the community response was so strong that they needed another venue due to demand. The Clean Harbors expansion has worked really well. Both the community and teams that staff the event each year look forward to the event.
This year there were 12 Health Department employees, another dozen from Clean Harbors, three from Tooele City, several Search and Rescue team members (providing traffic control and direction) and four people from Advanced Recycling (who handle e-Waste). Bryan characterized the team as “fantastic,” and said that it just wouldn’t be possible to conduct the event without the great team effort.
Bryan said he’s seen an increase in both public awareness of hazardous waste over the years. As for the number of people I saw bringing items this year, Bryan tells me this is what he has come to expect each year. That’s a good thing!
When asked if there were any surprises this year, he said, thankfully, there weren’t any concerns. The community has learned not to bring ammunition, explosives and propane tanks!
However, residents brought about 1,000 gallons of motor oil and antifreeze waste on Saturday. This indicates lack of awareness about year-round collection stations at auto parts retailers, he said.
In fact, there are ongoing collection services available for many types of consumer hazardous waste. Besides used oil and antifreeze, citizens can drop off batteries, prescription drugs, e-Waste, and compact fluorescent bulbs at various collection points. For a list of these, visit http://tooelehealth.org/environmental-health/ and click on the “Household Hazardous Waste” link to find collection sites.
Latex-based paints can go in your trash can—just take the lid off and let the contents completely dry. In fact, there is no local law that says you can’t dispose of lawn chemicals and pesticides directly in your trash can. That’s because household waste is first taken to the Bauer waste facility transfer station, and then hauled to a lined and monitored landfill further west.
I believe it is even better to put those materials directly into the hands of those trained to handle and safely dispose them. With the collection day each May, we have an even more convenient event to take care of our waste disposal needs. Next time, I’ll remember to bring a sandwich and a drink to enjoy while I’m in line with my fellow citizens.
Jay Cooper can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can visit his channel at youtube.com/dirtfarmerjay for videos on the hands-on life of gardening, shop and home skills, culinary arts and landscaping.