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Six Action Steps to Change Your World

Changing the way that we purchase, use, store and dispose of HHMs in our homes doesn’t have to be hard. Here are six easy actions you can do to change your world.

1. Buy environmentally friendly products to reduce your impact on the environment.

  • Choose products with label statements such as: non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, non-petroleum based, free of ammonia, phosphates, dye or perfume, readily biodegradable, non-fuming and recyclable container.
  • Look for natural plant based products that will do the job you need. Not all green products are created equal even if they say “natural”, many still contain hazardous materials, so it is best to read the label for a listing of ingredients and signal words.
  • More information can be found on the Proper Purchasing page.

2.  Don’t buy more than you need to prevent storing leftovers.

  • Avoid “super” sizes and bundled products. The money you may save is not worth the risk of storing unused hazardous products.
  • Is “buy one get one free” really a good idea? How many insecticides or bottles of cleaner will you really use? If you need to store it, there is a greater risk of exposure to spills, fumes or accidental poisonings.
  • Paint is the largest and most common household waste stream. Use a Paint Calculator before you buy to determine how much paint you will need to purchase (search “paint calculator” on the web).

3. Protect your indoor air quality for a healthy family and home.

  • Purchase household products with no or low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOC-containing products are found everywhere in the typical house. They are commonly found in adhesives, paints, paint strippers, and other solvents, wood preservatives, aerosol sprays, cleansers and disinfectants, moth repellents and air fresheners, stored fuels and automotive products, hobby supplies and dry-cleaned clothing.
  • In addition to emitting VOCs, aerosol sprays cause air pollution by releasing particles and gases into the air. In many cases the propellant used in aerosol sprays contributes to greenhouse gases. Aerosol sprays are pressurized and can pose disposal issues (explosions) when not completely empty. Gel, solid products or pump sprays are generally better for you and your indoor air quality.
  • Buy unscented products. Scented products can add chemicals to the indoor air environment and may cause breathing problems in people with respiratory ailments or sensitive skin.

4. Replace your mercury thermometers and thermostat with a non-toxic digital model.

  • Buy a new non-mercury digital thermometer for your home.
  • Replace your mercury thermostat with a programmable one—you’ll save on heating and cooling costs too!
  • Bring any mercury-containing items to your local Regional Collection Center. Even a few drops from a broken thermometer or thermostat can raise mercury air concentrations in a room to unsafe levels.

5. Inventory your house and dispose of old or unwanted HHMs properly for a healthier home and environment.

  • Look under your sink in the kitchen and bathroom, on the shelves in the basement or garage, any place you store your HHMs. If you don’t use the materials regularly, call your Regional Collection Center for an appointment and then pack your unused/unwanted HHMs into a cardboard box for proper disposal at the RCC.
  • Because vapors can leak even from closed containers, when you choose not to store HHMs you improve indoor air quality by reducing fumes and may prevent accidental poisonings by removing HHMs from areas where there are children and pets present.
  • More information can be found on the Proper Disposal page.

6. Lawn Care: Try going natural for a better environment.

Think twice before using “Weed and Feed” or other pesticides:

  • In a science journal review of 98 health studies related to the use of herbicides and insecticides, half the studies found an increased cancer risk from using the products.
  • Rainwater can wash insecticides and herbicides from our lawns into the storm sewers, which drain into our streams or lakes. These waters are used as a source for both drinking and recreation.
  • If you decide to use a petroleum-based pesticide, follow all label instructions for use, storage and disposal. Do not apply before a rainstorm and do not over-apply

Mow high, mow often and leave the clippings:

  • Set mowing heights up to about two inches for most lawns to develop deeper roots and crowd out weeds.
  • Remove only one-third of grass length at each mowing.
  • “Grasscycling” (leaving the clippings on the lawn) provides free fertilizer- at least 1/4 of your lawn’s needs.

If you fertilize, look for the words Organic or Slow-release on the bag; these fertilizers release nutrients into the lawn slowly:

  • Slow-release or organic fertilizers are used only twice a year, mid-to-late May and again in early September. If you only fertilize once, fall is best.
  • Remember, a healthy lawn is a medium green color; a dark green turf is a sign of an over-fertilized lawn which is prone to disease and drought damage.