I was browsing through the latest post from long-lost-cousin Jolie Kerr’s feature “Ask a Clean Person” on Jezebel when I realized that April is the month she’s designated to deep clean the bathroom. That reminds me of some very important Earth Day type reminders for all you cleaning freaks out there.
First, do not dispose of your unwanted medication by flushing or down the drain. It is very bad for the water as most waste treatment systems cannot filtrate the medication. It is bad for the plants and animals that might ingest. It is also not good to just put them in trash because they still leech into groundwater or can be scavenged. The Drug Enforcement Agency has twice yearly “Pharmaceutical Collections” – the next one is April 26. You find a location near you and literally just drop it off. I walked in to our local police station, the desk Sargeant pointed me to a large bin and went back to his writing task. No ID, no question, no nothing. I disposed of old prescription meds, unused OTC meds and pet medication. We took a few minutes beforehand to remove labels from the pill bottles, but otherwise this task took less than 30 minutes from start to finish.
Second, you can also recycle household cleaners. Here in Western PA, the PRC has several “Household Chemical Collection Events” which include things like cleaning agents, over cleaner, and so forth. They are collected with other hazardous household items like chemicals, paints and old propane tanks from your grill. Check out the list, pick a location near you and set things aside to ensure they are disposed of properly. You will be charged $2/gallon (they eyeball estimate it so of course don’t combine chemicals to fill up a gallon container.) You drive up, they unload, you hand some the cash and off you go. Easy peasy.
Third, materials can be recycled, too. If your bathroom cleaning (or general household spring cleaning) generates shelves, bookcases, furniture, televisions, chairs, etc that are have some life left in them – sort for Goodwill Industries and Construction Junction. Remodeling? Donate your old appliances to Construction Junction – yep, even commodes. As for Goodwill, they can take your gently used bedding, linens, tablecloths, dishes, pots, pans and pretty much anything. They also recycle textiles so it is okay to donate those items that don’t have any life in them rather than end up in the landfill. What I do is put those items (raggedy clothes/towels, old shoes, broken belts, etc) into a separate bag so I don’t feel so awkward when I donate (they don’t care – just make sure its clean!) This is a constructive final step for your cleaning rags when they become too raggedy – toss them in the washer for a final cleaning and then donate the shreds to be recycled and go on to a new purpose.
Fourth, there will be regional “Hard To Recycle” events this summer for ewaste (televisions, computers, etc) as well as DVD’s, batteries and STYROFOAM – all that stuff cluttering up shelves, drawers and corners of the attic until you find a good use for it. When I did some dusting last week, I found several CD’s that were broken or scratched and apparently, set aside God knows when. We also have a drawer filled with batteries.
Fifth, recycle those plastic bags. There are at least 100 locations in Southwestern PA where you can take plastic bags – most Giant Eagle and Target stores, many Kmarts, even JC Penney stores. Bags you put curbside for municipal recycling are NOT recycled, so don’t tuck the extra bags inside. In fact, stretch those bags as far as you can to avoid waste. As you spring clean, gather up bags and plastic with a recycling logo that might be used as wrapping or even filler. Put it in a big bag and put it in your car.
Finally, take those extra tote bags (we both know that you have at least 3 that you never use) and fill them with items you intend to donate. Yes, it is okay to take items from your pantry and donate to a food pantry as long as they are edible, not expired and the cans aren’t rusted. So first bag is for food pantry. Second bag? Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse which takes clean artistic materials in good condition – from cd’s to manikins to scrapbooking supplies to holiday cards. How about all of those odds and ends crafty things in that drawer over there? The ones covered by takeout menus. And the third bag? The Pittsburgh ReuseFest is coming up in late June – check out the organizations and items being requested. Best of all? You can donate the tote bag itself with all of these donations.