Disposing of Household Hazardous Waste

I'm currently working with a metal artist to organize her studio. In this process, we've come across lots of little containers of chemicals that need to be disposed of, but neither of us was sure of the environmental and legal rules for disposal. I began my search for answers by contacting the Environmental Protection Agency for Georgia. After being bounced around from person to person, I finally hit pay dirt with the Department of Community Affairs. A wonderfully responsive gentleman called me back and emailed me a couple of fact sheets on the proper disposal of household waste. Here are a few pointers:

The processes described here basically involve either solidifying wastes for disposal via regular garbage service, or evaporation. With both of the basic steps below, you want to work outside, and wear rubber gloves and eye protection. Never mix more than one material as you're preparing the items for disposal.


The idea here is to make the liquids solid. Sawdust or shredded newspaper will work, but for larger quantities you'll want to get some kitty litter, cheaper at auto parts stores; ask for oil dry. Double-line a garbage can with plastic garbage bags, add some oil dry/kitty litter and then the liquid waste. Work outside, away from access by children and animals. When the material is solidified, tie up the bag and it can then go into regular trash. Be sure not to get the bag so heavy that you can't handle it, or that it ruptures. Wear gloves and safety glasses to prevent contact with the materials you're handling.


Work outside, away from access by children and animals. If there is just a trace amount of hazardous waste in the container, simply open the top and let it evaporate. If you have more than a very little bit, you'll want to accelerate the process. Get some sort of disposable metal try (an aluminum foil roasting pan is ideal) and pour a half-inch of liquid into the tray. The increased surface area will allow the fuel/liquid to evaporate much more quickly. Repeat this process until the fuel/liquid is gone, and then recycle or reuse the containers if possible (though not for cooking!).

The foil tray can be recycled with scrap aluminum; if you're leery of having the fuel/liquid-coated foil around your home until you can recycle it, then wad up the tray, wrap it in a few layers of newspaper and put it in a sturdy plastic garbage bag . Then it can be disposed of in your regular household trash.

Here is the GA Dept. of Community Affairs web site where you can find more info. Look under Recycling and Disposal Guidance:


Of course, if you live outside of Georgia, you will want to research your county or state guidelines for hazardous waste disposal.

Organizing Tools: Non-Toxic Cleaners

I recently discussed the basic ingredients for a well-stocked cleaning caddy, but I didn't cover the specific cleaning products that you may want to include. Since the majority of us are trying to "go green" and use less toxic cleaning products, I thought I would mention some of my favorite non-toxic cleaners along with some recommendations from the wonderful Apartment Therapy blog.

We'll start with some of my favorite name brands:

  • method. I love method products because they are non-toxic, they use 100% recycled plastic in their packaging, and they smell incredible. I purchase my method products at Target. Their selection is always awesome (unless there is a sale going on). Specifically, I use the the All Surface Pink Grapefruit for counters and general cleaning, Tub + Tile Eucalylptus Mint for tile walls and floors, and Daily Shower Ylang Ylang as my daily tub and shower curtain cleaner (just spray on when you're done with your shower). I also recently picked up method's Citrus Cilantro Aroma Spray for a deodorizer in the bathroom. It smells so clean!
  • Simple Green. We've used Simple Green's All Purpose Cleaner as one of our primary household cleaners ever since being exposed to it at a bicycle maintenance class. The instructor used it as his bicycle cleaner, so my bike-riding husband picked up a bottle. Years later, we use it so often we buy the industrial size refill. Like method's products, Simple Green is non-toxic and biodegradable. You can use it on most any surface except glass (it streaks). It's an incredible stain remover too. We've used it to remove red wine stains on white kitchen counters, blood on shirts, lipstick, etc. You can find it in most any grocery or hardware store.
  • Bon Ami Polishing Cleanser Founded in 1886, Bon Ami can't be beat for cleaning sinks, toilets, and anything else needing a powder cleanser that doesn't scratch. Because it contains no perfume, bleach, detergent, or dye, it's recommended for those who are sensitive to chemicals.
Here are some other non-toxic cleaning products recommended on the Apartment Therapy blog:
And, finally, my grandmother's favorite ingredients for homemade (and low cost) cleaners: white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and distilled water. In different combinations, those four items can clean just about any mess you can make.

What are your favorite "green" cleaners?

The Container Store's Annual Shelving Sale

As you guys know, I am a HUGE fan of The Container Store. For those of you that have been thinking about picking up some new shelving options, now is the time to do it. The Container Store is having their annual storewide shelving sale until October 19th where you can take advantage of a whopping 25% off these shelving products:

  • elfa
  • InterMetro
  • Metro Commercial
  • Modular Steel Cubes
  • Solid Mahogany Modular Cubes
  • Ladoro Shelving
  • Freestanding Shelving
  • Janus Shelving
  • Wall-Mounted Shelving
There are only two times per year that The Container Store puts their elfa shelving products on sale, and the next sale won't be until the end of the holidays.

So go to their site, brainstorm, take measurements of the space(s) you'd like to organize, and visit one of their stores. If you don't have a store near you, the TCS web site has a section where you can plan your own space and order everything to be shipped to you.

If you would like to take advantage of even greater savings in the store and you live in Atlanta, consider giving us a call so that we can go shopping with you and share our NAPO member discount with you. Let us know if you have any questions about the products. I worked there a couple of years ago and have installed a boat load of their stuff in my home and my clients' homes. It rocks!