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Are You a Hazardous Waste Case?

If you think that industrial dumps are the only cause of toxic pollution, think again. Consumers don't realize that some common household products can become hazardous waste when dumped down the drain or thrown into the trash. To avoid becoming a mini- polluter, remember the three Rs--Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Paint Packrats... get real. Too many trips to the home improvement center can turn your basement into a chemical storage bin. If those cans of chartreuse semi-gloss are still sitting around half-empty, it's time to liquidate your stockpile in the environmentally-correct way--at your local household hazardous waste day. Many localities sponsor free cleanup days once or twice a year at convenient drop-off points. Get rid of old solvents, cleaners, and pesticides while you're at it.

Reduce: Buy just enough to complete the project. Avoid using the hard stuff--choose water-based latex instead of oil-based paint. Latex comes in varieties designed for all applications, and it cleans up in water so you won't have to use toxic paint thinners or turpentine.

Reuse: Donate your unwanted paints to a local church or community housing program.

It Just Keeps on Going, and Going.... Battery addicts burning energy in toys, appliances, or game systems are prime candidates for waste reduction. Consider using rechargable batteries instead of throw-aways.

Reuse: Do-it-yourself, shadetree mechanics need to be conscious of their disposal practices, too. Take used motor oil to the local quick-lube shop or gas station that accepts this recyclable product.

Reduce: Don't fall for the "more-is-better" misconception with regard to pesticides. Apply in the amount specified on the label. Be sure to follow all label directions carefully because they contain procedures for reducing health and environmental hazards.

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