Public Green Category: Household Products

Tidy your Home for the Holidays the Green Way

Now’s the time to start thinking about getting your house in order for the holidays.

Do you have a bunch of electronics and small household appliances that are no longer working or are out-of-date? The SWANCC (Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County) Glenview Transfer Station at 1151 N River Road, Des Plaines (across from Maryville Academy) will accept many items for recycling, including all computer-related devices and small household appliances (see here for a detailed list and more information). Any resident from a SWANCC member community can drop off items every Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Have a bunch of nonworking holiday lights or are switching to LEDs? Mount Prospect Public Works (1700 W. Central) will begin accepting holiday lights for recycling starting November 2 through February 29, 2016. Lights will be accepted 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Do you have old paint cans, household cleaners/chemicals and old garden pesticides to get rid of? The Illinois EPA has collection sites for these hazardous household waste items. Note: latex paint is not a hazardous material and can be discarded in your regular trash. Just make sure the paint is hardened by leaving the lid off, or to speed up the process you can add cat litter or saw dust.

Cleaning out your closet and dressers and kitchen cabinets? Many organizations take clothing and household donations on a regular basis. SWANCC has a list in the local area for drop-off or pick up.

Sorting through your books? Most public libraries, including the Mount Prospect Public Library, will accept book donations throughout the year. It’s best to call ahead and make sure donations are being accepted on a given day before you haul them out of your home.

And remember that the Mount Prospect Public Library is a drop-off for used personal care product packaging, cell phones and ink-jet cartridges, eyeglasses and keys.

Paint Recycling Program

Is your garage or basement cluttered with cans of leftover paint you have no intention of using? If passed, new legislation in Illinois could help fund a paint recycling program that would create more drop-off locations, many of which would be conveniently located at retail establishments. To help fund the program, consumers would pay a small fee when purchasing paint. Currently, there are similar programs in seven other states. For more information, check out this brief article featured on Earth911. You can also check the status of the House Bill (HB5457) and Senate Bill (SB1705).

Proper Smoke Detector and Fire Extinguisher Disposal

Smoke detectors at the end of their lifespan, which is about eight to 10 years according to Earth911, cannot be recycled; many of them are ionization smoke detectors, which have small amounts of radioactive material, Americium 241. The Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) states on its Smoke Detectors page that “all smoke detectors contain the mail-back address to send used units with radioactive chips,” but now recommends that residents dispose of smoke detectors in their regular trash.

A list of manufacturers that may accept old and used smoke detectors for disposal can be found here: Smoke Detector Disposal Info. However, according to SWANCC, the manufacturers that they contacted simply throw them away and advise residents to just throw them away themselves. Since the amount of radioactive material in ionization smoke detectors is so limited, the EPA does not require special disposal methods for them.

While both Earth 911’s No Smoking and disposal tips page mention Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection events as acceptable options for smoke detector disposal, both SWANCC and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency state that smoke detectors will not be accepted at such events.

Fire extinguishers also are ineligible for disposal at HHW events, but there are numerous disposal, recycling, and reuse options available to residents. SWANCC states on its Fire Extinguishers page that “[t]hey cannot be discarded curbside,” but they can be recharged, recycled at various locations, possibly through the fire-extinguisher manufacturers and local fire departments, and even in regular residential recycling as long as all contents are discharged and the head is removed—the steel body can then be recycled. However, the Mt. Prospect Fire Department does not recharge, recycle, or otherwise dispose of fire extinguishers and refers people to SWANCC for more information.

Green Your Spring Cleaning

Do you dread spring cleaning because of the harsh chemicals and overpowering smells given off by your average cleaning products? Then consider trying to green your spring cleaning choices this year. Consumer Reports recently tested various green cleaners, including all purpose cleaners, dishwasher detergents with low phosphates, dishwashing liquids, laundry liquids and powders, and shower cleaners. Check out which products fared best at Consumer Reports Green Product Watch: Best Spring Cleaners.

Did you know you can also create your own cleaners from some basic ingredients you may already have in your home? Consumer Reports has also created a list basic ingredients and homemade household cleaner recipes. Check them out at Homemade Household Cleaners: Best Recipes.

Do you have a tried and true recipe for your own green cleaner, or did you try one of the recipes suggested by Consumer Reports? If so, please feel free to share your results by posting a comment!

The Many Uses of Baking Soda

Baking soda is a common item kept in many homes, but did you know that there are tons of uses for baking soda? Here are a few to get you started:

In Your Home:
*Place a box of baking soda in your garbage can or refrigerator (they make special boxes for this) to absorb smells.
*Do you have some smelly shoes lying around? Sprinkle a little bit in the shoes to deodorize them.
*Sprinkle some baking soda on your carpet, let it set for a little bit (some say anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour) and then simply vacuum up the baking soda, along with the smell.
*Sprinkle baking soda over upholstered furniture, gently brush, and let sit for anywhere between 1 hour and overnight, then vacuum away any smells trapped in your furniture.
*Keep your fresh flowers alive longer by adding a teaspoon to the water.
*Put baking soda under your sinks, in cracks, and around ground level windows to repel cockroaches and ants.
*Sprinkle some in your cats litter box to help remove foul odors.
*Mix baking soda and water instead of soap to wash your fruits and vegetables.
*Add a cup of baking soda to your toilet bowl, let sit for an hour, then flush.
*Mix baking soda and water to make a paste to gently scrub away marks from walls (including crayon!).
*Sprinkle on a damp sponge to clean stainless steel without scratching.
*Keep your drains clean by putting 4 tablespoons of baking soda in them each week, and flush with hot water.
*Mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda with a quart of warm water to clean the inside of your oven.

Outside Your Home:
*Scatter baking soda around your flowerbeds to keep rabbits away.
*Sprinkle baking soda around the soil of your tomato plants to sweeten your tomatos.
*Clean your screens by dipping a damp wire brush into baking soda, scrub the screens, then rinse with a sponge or hose.
*To clean up light oil spills in the garage, mix equal parts of baking soda and cornmeal and sprinkle on the spill, let it dry, and then sweep or vacuum away. If the spot is still there, sprinkle with baking soda, let it stand and then scrub it using a wet brush.

Do you have a favorite use for baking soda, or did one of these suggestiions work for you? If so, let us know by leaving a comment!

For more information on the many uses of baking soda visit: