It’s spring and your honey-do list is growing as fast as the weeds in your lawn. If you want to get “clean out the garage” off the list this weekend, there are a few things to keep in mind before you get started. Even a quick clean in the garage can turn up a handful of hazardous chemicals. You need to find a safe way to get rid of these chemicals, or you will likely face a steep fine. Most of these household items cannot be poured down the drain, into the toilet or set alongside your usual trash bags.
Recycling laws vary among townships, counties and municipalities; the best first step is to contact the local Department of Public works or visit their website. The department will be able to provide you with a print out of what can be recycled, how you can prepare the items for pick up or where to take them if the municipality does not recycle the item.
Large batteries, including those that power your car, contain toxic lead and cannot be taken to the city dump. There are a number of recyclable parts to batteries, such as sulfuric acid and lead plates. These can usually be reused with a small amount of processing. Most stores that sell these large batteries will recycle them for you. Sometimes car repair shops will refund you part of the cost of the new battery if you recycle the old one.
Brake fluid is alcohol-based and toxic if ingested or leaked into a waterway. If you are changing your car’s brake fluid, be sure to catch the liquid in a run-off jar. When the fluid has stopped draining, pour the liquid into a container of cat litter and leave it out to evaporate for a few days. Keep it away from children, pets and open flames while it is evaporating.