Monday, October 6, 2008

In which I close a chapter on a toxic life...

I took a break from the garden last week in order to organize and clean my woodworking shop. A friend passed along his radial arm saw to me, which required some re-arranging of the space in order to accommodate it. And of course, once I started to mess with moving things around, I had to clean--one thing led to another and it became a big project.

One thing I felt good about, however, was that it forced me to finally deal with some pesticides I had on a shelf. Over the years I've gone more and more organic with my gardening, and rarely use pesticides anymore; in fact, some of the stuff I had was more than a decade old. But once you stop using them, you can't just toss the leftovers in the trash and call it done. Most of the stuff was not too terribly bad--herbicides, fertilizers, etc.--but there was some Dursban, and that concerned me.

So I did some investigating about how to deal with disposal of the stuff properly. You can safely dispose of small amounts of household poisons in the city dumpster (I'll pass along the recommendations on how to do it at the end of this post), but I just didn't feel comfortable doing that with the amount that I had. In the end, I called the solid waste disposal department for the city, who instructed me to take them to the recycling center on 84th St.

When I got there, however, I was informed by the man at the gate that they weren't accepting them anymore. But then he told me to talk to the "boss" and maybe he would make an exception. So I tracked the boss down, and he confirmed that they'd decided not to accept individual drop offs of household toxics anymore. Instead, they are going to go to a monthly, by-appointment only, drop off date. So I asked when that date was coming up, and he replied that he didn't know. They hadn't gotten that far in their thinking about it yet.

I guess I look dismayed (I was driving around with a toxic waste dump in the back of the wagon, after all), because he took pity on me and relented. We unloaded everything into a blue shed, and I closed the door on that part of my gardening life. Felt good about it, too.

Here's an alarming thought, though: All across America there are shelves of pesticides, just like mine. Shelves, and shelves, and shelves...and they all are going to need to be dealt with. All the more reason to start moving toward less troublesome modes of gardening. Sorry, Monsanto, but your way of doing things just isn't going to cut it anymore.

Disposal of Household Toxic Waste:
Small amounts of household toxics can safely be disposed of in the city dumpster (the dump site is also lined to prevent toxins from leaching out into the soil). The City of Lubbock website and my friend Jill (who used to work for the Poison Hotline, and who has written a book about toxics) suggests the following to prep for disposal:

Rinse empty containers, seal in a plastic trash bag.

If the poisons are solids (powders, granules, etc.): Double bag and seal in a sturdy trash bag.

If the poisons are liquid: Double bag and seal in a sturdy trash bag, with kitty litter to soak up any possible leaks that might occur.

For paints, oils, stains, etc.: open can and let air dry, safely away from children and pets. Once dry, dispose of in the dumpster.

I'd like to stress that these are these are the procedures for Lubbock. Your own muncipality might have other means of taking care of households toxics, so to be on the safe side, always check with your local authorities before doing anything.


  1. Hi Sheila--thanks for stopping by! You might also check to see what your local municipality recommends, since it may differ somewhat from Lubbock.



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