Monday, July 7, 2014

Green Dogs Dispose Properly

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
Tanner on Trash Duty
Here at All Things Dog Blog we live a pretty green lifestyle, and if this photo is any indication, it's been going on for quite a while. I think we got the bug around 2006 or 2007 when Xena was diagnosed with cancer of an environmental source.

Things like eating organic, composting, recycling, and proper disposal of items not to be reused, are part of our daily routine now. Today I realized, as I loaded up a box of HAZMAT dropoffs, that there are some items in there that many of you may find fascinating--or not. So here goes. Strap on your green seatbelt and let's talk about how you could be disposing of the items you don't wish to keep. Join us for an up close and personal tour of our trash. Fun, yes?!

But first let's talk about the items you choose to bring into your home. Even your dogs don't need some of the ingredients that are in pet products. Really; why would you feed your dog food coloring or synthetics like fertilizers and pesticides. Items I absolutely boycott for my family and my pets include those with food coloring, ingredients processed with aluminum, parabens, synthetic fertilizers (compost works great and helps you recycle your food scraps), pesticides for home, garden and our pets (we've got a list at the link of products that work well and are not poisonous to our pets), commercial house cleaning products with toxic ingredients, unnecessary disposable packaging, plastic bags when there are options, and the list goes on.
  • Let's start with batteries. Some dog products use them to run motors (water fountains) and some owners use them for dog-related activities like playing calming music on a dinosaur cassette or CD player. I love Lisa Spector's piano music for both me and the dogs! Batteries--no matter which kind you're disposing of--don't go to landfills. They leak acids and toxins. Take them to the hazardous materials drop off point at your county's landfill or similar location. Just Google it! Better yet, use rechargeable batteries to reduce the number of batteries needed and the toxicity of the batteries themselves. Rechargeable batteries have come a long way in recent years, lasting longer and becoming much more affordable. You can check this out at these Amazon links for a recharger and batteries that are widely available at discount stores also.
  • Medications are another matter. Ask your vet where you can dispose of unused or expired meds in your area. Reduce the amount of this by keeping an inventory of what you have at home. Often you'll be prescribed a repeat and find you already had some left over. Many municipalities offer medication disposal drop off days periodically. Another option is to check online for the safest ways to dispose of medications. There are some guidelines you can follow, but take care to follow them well. This stuff doesn't belong in our water supply!
  • Hypodermic needles used for diabetic pets should be disposed of in appropriate SHARPS containers and turned into accepting facilities in your area when full. In our area, fire stations take drop offs, but many labs will also take your SHARPS containers for a small charge. Check local listings.
  • Liquid home or garden chemicals: Please don't pour these down your drain. Our water treatment facilities are not set up to remove these products, so guess where they'll end up? Yup--our water supply. If you're going the green road by giving up Roundup (email me for info on greener herbicides), pesticides (ditto) or auto fluids, check with the experts. Most counties offer drop off days at multiple locations for used motor oil and anti-freeze (which are very toxic to fido). When I purged my traditional pesticides, I handed them off to a family that had no intention of switching. At least they saved money although I'll admit I got a stomach ache over it.
  • courtesy
  • CFL lightbulbs that light the home you share with your pets: The biggest beef about CFLs among consumers is that they've heard there is mercury in these. They are right. However, the amount of mercury is miniscule and can be removed by proper facilities that are in place especially for this purpose. CFLs are far superior in their green points than traditional incandescant bulbs, which have now been eliminated in much of the U.S. due to danger to our environment. CFLs need to be dropped off at a hazmat facility for proper handling. Call your local landfill for directions.
  • Electronics like that dinosaur cassette player, broken DVD players, computers beyond repair, and the like, all have components that must be removed before disposal. Some manufacturers will handle this, but hazmat facilities do it also. Further, the plastics can often be recycled, which helps a bit in the grand scheme.
  • Old cell phones that have kept you and fido safe on walks (you know, the ones they call DUMB phones) can be turned in at many office supply stores and Home Depots. Remove your SIM card and attach the battery and charger with a rubberband. These can be used as emergency phones, dialing only 911, for folks who can't afford a cell phone or choose not to purchase one. 
  • Old eyeglasses that have gotten you around on your dog walks for years are accepted at many eyeglass stores and by Lion's Clubs all over. They check the prescription and match them up with requests for glasses by needy families.
  • I'm tossing this one in here, even though it doesn't pertain at all to pets. Wine bottle corks can be recycled as a naturally-occurring product. Google a facility near you and when you've collected a box, drop a label on it and off they go to cork heaven for a new life as a bulletin board.
  • Brita filters used for your pet's filtered water (and probably other brands too) can be turned in at Whole Foods Markets or mailed back to Brita for recycling. These are cleaned, refurbished (sorry, I don't have a lot of details on this process) and made ready to resell so that the plastic and filtering materials don't all go to waste. I hope you're all using filtered water in your pet bowls. City water can and often does have a chlorine cloud that may not set well with your pets, especially over the long term. Watch for tell-tale neurological symptoms and see your vet if Fido has any new or worsening odd behaviors.
  • Most certainly I've missed a few. This list incorporates most of my own family's items, but you may have others. Feel free to share your knowledge and tell us how you dispose properly. #browniepoints
This Week's Drop Off:
Light Bulbs, Batteries, Phones + Electronics

Tanner and Oliver Will Tag Along
You may be asking yourself why I would trek to the hazmat facility on a regular basis. It's really much easier than that. I keep a couple of boxes of small containers (milk cartons, old shoe boxes, etc) to sort out items that require specialized disposal. When the box gets full we trek off to the hazmat drop. In our county, this area is underground (like in the lower level of a parking garage) with separate areas labeled off for each type of product. It only takes a few minutes to place each box on the platform for each product category. If your hazmat items are sorted, you'll be in and out in a jiffy. Do you have a few minutes to keep from tossing toxins in our landfills? I hope so; our dogs can't do it alone.

If you're trying to live a little lighter on the earth and reduce your carbon footprint, I'd love to encourage you a bit. Send me a photo of your dog ( at a hazmat facility and I'll send you a surprise pet or pet parent goodie as a reward for your effort, while supplies last. Items will vary, but will include assorted pet industry samples, pet supplies and pet lover items. I'll also share your pic with a thank you on Facebook and Twitter. Don't forget to include an address and your dog's weight, sex, and breed or mix for those items that require appropriate sizing! Now, just hit that RT button to help:
Greening up your dog's world,

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Steve said...

The hypodermic needle is a scary one.

Linda K said...

I try to do the same, though our town no longer considers batteries as something they collect for recycling. I feel it's wrong to throw them in the regular garbage?!
Anyway if we all practiced recycling hazmat items Mother Earth would be a happy gal!

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