How to properly recycle hazardous materials

Doing some spring cleaning soon? Learn how to properly recycle hazardous materials to prevent environmental disasters.

When purging our home of things we no longer use or need it’s extremely important to demonstrate proper recycling techniques. If we don’t use proper recycling it can wreak havoc on our water supply as well as spill dangerous pollution into the air.

If you read our post 24 things you can throw away right now you’ll recognize some of these items on this list. This isn’t a complete list of everything you can and can’t recycle but this gives you a deeper in-depth look at how to recycle certain things and other helpful tips on reducing household clutter and contaminants.

Postal Mail

Postal mail spam is still one of the biggest threat of unwanted junk mail. While it IS illegal for companies to sell your name and address to other individuals and companies without your knowledge scary enough sometimes this information can be easily found on the internet often times they are very good guesses. However, often it’s just information companies pay to send out via the USPS to drive up business.

While we can’t control every piece of mail that comes into our home we can easily help ease the amount that does. There are a few things you can do to opt out of certain things. According to the FTC, consumers who decide they want to opt out of prescreened credit and insurance applications for five years or permanently via one of the following options.

For five years:
Call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit Both the phone number and website are operated by the major consumer reporting companies.

Permanently opting out:
You may begin the process online here (the same website above), however; in order to complete your request, you will have to return the signed “Permanent Opt-Out Election Form” which will be provided after you initiate the request online.

Please note when you call or visit the websites above you will be asked personal information to verify your identity such as your phone number, name, social security information, and date of birth. While this may seem like a lot of information to hand out it will be confidential and only will be used to process your opt-out request. For more information on how to opt-out of other mailing lists please visit the FTC article here.

Hazardous Waste Facilities

While disposal of these items vary per area often items many cities have special hazardous waste facilities where you can bring items like paint, televisions, computers, where they will properly dispose of the materials at little to no cost to you. If your city doesn’t have a year hazardous waste facility some times may hold a special drive for items such as those mentioned above. It is always best to check with your local city for any special programs that may exist and if there are plans for a special drive.

If no such programs exist you may want to look into talking to your local councilmen into creating one, however; in the meantime, if you must dispose of these items check with your local trash company. While services will vary per provider sometimes providers can provide a special scheduled waste pickup. These additional services may already be included in your regular trash services or available at an optional cost. Check with your local provider or visit their website for more information.

Eye Glasses

For eyeglasses, you can donate them to your local branch of the Lion’s Club, who help provide eyeglasses for families in need. Feel free to visit their website to see what their requirements may be. If you don’t happen to have a local branch I am sure they have a mailing address where you can mail those items in. Also, check with local hospitals or ophthalmologists to see if they have a collection box.

Prescription Medications

As for prescription medications, it’s extremely important to toss these is a healthy manner flushing them is NOT recommended and throwing them in the trash is extremely dangerous so how can we properly dispose of them? Occasionally, police departments will hold a prescription drive where people can come and drop off any unused prescriptions to be disposed of properly, however; not everywhere may do this but you may have another option. Check with your local pharmacy to see if they allow you to “bring back” old and unused medications often items they will accept them and dispose of properly if not they may be able to direct you to another disposal method.


Textbooks can be recycled in one of two ways; you can recycle it in the trash OR see if the book has any value and resell it a variety of different website (or sometimes back to the university itself). While it can be nice to sell unused books for cash don’t expect to get what you paid for it out of it; books lose their value quickly especially personalized editions to a specific university or professor and with newer editions coming out as soon as next semester that book may be worth very little. While donating is a good idea, sometimes the book has no value to potential readers especially if it contains outdated materials (hello, encyclopedias) that do more harm than good, so when in doubt toss.

Plastic Store Bags

Plastic store bags can be reused for other items (I personally use them for pet waste and lining bathroom trash cans) or recycled properly. Plastic waste bags, however, cannot be tossed in the regular recycling because they do not decompose for a long time. Some stores will allow you to return your old bags to be recycled properly and some recycling companies are some states where they have a plastic bag ban will allow you to recycle your bags for cash. Check local laws/ordinances and stores for more information on how to recycle.

With proper disposal techniques, we can help reduce waste and give Mother Earth and love and appreciation she deserves. Always recycle properly and if you’re unsure on how to recycle something don’t be afraid to ask someone for advice.

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One Comment

  • Michaela Hemsley

    Thanks for pointing out that if we don’t use proper recycling it can wreak havoc on our water supply as well as spill dangerous pollution into the air. My husband and I are moving out and we are trying figure out what we should do with some of the electronics and paint that we need to get rid of because we don’t want to take them with us to our next house. I think it would be smart to look into hazardous waste management facilities that could help us recycle everything properly so that we don’t damage the environment and can do our part to keep everything healthy.

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