Cleaning Cabinet Makeover – What to Toss?
One of the best ways to know which products you have should be taken to the household hazardous waste pickup or dump, is to read a product label’s “signal words.” They are placed on products by order of the federal government, with the primary purpose of protecting you, but sometimes to tell you about the products’ potential impact on the environment.
POISON/DANGER means something very toxic; only a few drops could kill you.
WARNING means moderately toxic; as little as a teaspoonful can kill.
CAUTION denotes a product that is less toxic; two tablespoons to a cup could kill you.
The Environmental Health Foundation, in its book Toxic Turnaround, compiled a list of the top four chemical groups we should reject and eliminate.
These four are pesticides, toxic gases (such as chlorine and ammonia), heavy metals (such as lead and mercury), and volatile organic compounds (such as formaldehyde and solvents). The guideline are an excellent starting point. If we eliminate these chemicals, we will go a long way toward solving our environmental and health problems. I add plastics as a fifth category because of the increasing evidence that many plastic component are endocrine disruptors, synthetic chemicals that our bodies receive as if they were natural hormones.
Call your local recycling center and ask when they offer a household hazardous pickup day. Store everything that they will take in a safe place, away from kids and pets, and set off with them on the specific day the pickup is offered. Otherwise, should you use everything up before tossing a can in the landfill? No. Not all agree with me, but I’d rather have you not take the risk of being exposed to toxic chemicals.
By Annie B. Bond, the best-selling and award-winning author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999), Home Enlightenment, Clean & Green (1990), and most recently True Food (National Geographic, 2010 and winner of Gourmand Awards Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World). She has authored literally thousands of articles and was named “the foremost expert on green living” by Body & Soul magazine (2009).