By EcoFellow Jenny Goldberg

Hazardous waste comes from a variety of sources, many of which can be found under your kitchen sink or garage. When disposed of improperly, these substances can leak dangerous chemicals and contaminate groundwater. Some of the most common household culprits are oil based paints, varnishes, paint thinners, fuels, antifreeze, and pesticides.

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To address this issue, CET organizes household hazardous waste collections throughout western Mass to help people properly dispose of these items.

Last weekend, I ventured out into the Berkshires to assist with a Household Hazardous Waste Collection – one of many that we run each year. Amid beautiful mountains and colorful trees, we began to set up containers for electronics, oil-based paints, pesticides, automobile fluids, and other hazardous chemicals at the Great Barrington Recycling Center. A great recycling tip I picked up is to donate excess paint to a local theatre, since they are constantly painting sets and in need of a variety of colors.

I was responsible for accepting people’s TVs, computers, and other unwanted electronics, which felt like taking a trip back into time. We received number of old computers, including a computer by NeXT, the company that Steve Jobs founded in 1985 when he was forced to leave Apple.

For this event we partnered with a local Goodwill chapter, which had agreed to sort through the electronics to see if they were suitable for their donation center. It was inspiring to see such a large quantity of electronics and hazardous chemicals from almost 100 households that would be donated or properly recycled or disposed of.

To learn more about household items that contain hazardous waste, visit our website. You can also keep an eye on our events page for upcoming collections in your area!