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St. Tammany's First Household Hazardous-Waste Collection Day
-- Times Picayune story

Our Third Collection Day
-- Times Picayune story 2.20.2008
-- Times Picayune story 2.21.2008

Our Next One
-- Parish link
-- Items accepted

We need your help!
The number of volunteers is critically important to the success of our Collection Days.

If you can help, please contact Diane Casteel at 999diane@gmail.com or 985.626.5268.

What should I do with hazardous materials not taken at the St. Tammany Parish Household Hazardous-Waste Collection Day?

Oil
Used oil is the largest single source of pollution in our nation's waterways. If you change your own oil, you can drop off your used oil at the following locations. (Use a clean, leak-proof container and do not mix with other liquids.)
  • 5-Minute Oil Change
  • AutoZone
  • Pep Boys

    Oil Filters
    Drain filters for at least twelve hours; recycle excess oil and take filter to:
  • Pep Boys (Call first!)

    Propane Gas Cylinders
    You can recycle liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders such as propane tanks that hold between four and forty pounds (approximately one to ten gallons) by taking them to dealers who sell propane. You can find a list of dealers who sell and service refillable containers on the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Commission website. Try searching "List of Dealer Permit Holders" for Class-VI permit holders in your community. (For example: search on Slidell or Mandeville or Covington.)

    Smoke and Carbon-Monoxide Detectors
    The most common type of smoke detector contains a small amount of Americium-241, a radioactive material. Detectors have a limited life span, usually specified at ten years, and most manufacturers accept returned radioactive detectors for disposal as hazardous waste.

  • First Alert Corporation makes most smoke detectors. To dispose of only First Alert products, call 800.323.9005.
  • American Sensors (a Canadian firm) makes others. To dispose of only American Sensors products, call 800.387.4219.

  • Many common household items contain heavy metals (mercury, lead, and others) and other chemicals that are harmful when released into the environment. This happens when rainwater percolates through a landfill, and those contaminants merge with the ground water. Then they are on their way into lakes and seas, where they can be absorbed by algae and bacteria, assimilated by seaweed, and passed on to fish. Other contaminants in the landfill can evaporate and later condense into acid rain which also joins the food chain.

    Eventually they can arrive on our dinner tables!

    So, fighting to protect our local streams and habitats has long been a major focus for the Honey Island Group, and finding ways to keep some of the worst offending materials out of our landfills has always been front-burner. And, of course, Hurricane Katrina just multiplied the need many times over.

    As the most serious recovery from the storm wound down, Honey Islander Diane Casteel came up with the idea of a Household Hazardous-Waste Collection Day as a joint effort between Group volunteers and the Parish Department of Environmental Services. Saturday, October 28th, 2006 became the day.!

    From quiet beginnings when the idea was brought up at a Group meeting, the event unfolded like this: Diane proposed it to the Group Executive Committee in April and met the following month with Parish officials who were very enthusiastic. Diane and Environmental Specialist Brett Henry immediately set up a series of meetings, and Sierrans Therese Kwiecien and Linda Beall came on board. They quickly settled on the parking lot of the Parish Administrative Complex on Koop Drive as a location and began to line up vendors and plan a publicity campaign.

    The biggest problem was a balancing act. On the one hand, it was critically important to insure that every single item dropped off would be properly processed and disposed of; on the other, no one had any idea what the public response would be like. How to insure proper logistics without any idea of what the volume would be?

    Our second Household Hazardous-Waste Collection Day begins at 9:00am on Saturday, March 24th, 2007.

    Early on, our Delta Chapter threw its support behind the project, and that was essential, because we quickly outstripped our Groupís resources, especially to generate the necessary publicity. (We also received monetary donations from the Northlake-Mandeville Rotary Club and -- at the event -- from some of the grateful citizens and from cell-phone recylcing.)

    Soon, we had a page up on our web site, and the New Orleans Times Picayune ran the first of several stories -- and the project was rolling! Click here for more on how this went.

    Future Collection Days

    Paint was the predominant material dropped off at all three Household Hazardous-Waste Collection Days.
    Even as we were recovering from our overwhelming first one, our Group volunteers and Parish officials began working on a second Collection Day.

    The first day's exit survey gave them a lot of ideas, but there were significant logisitical problems to resolve. Again, Diane, Therese, and Brett spent uncountable hours over the next five months working with vendors and reaching out into the community. The last point was most important, because more volunteers were absolutely necessary to make this work.

    Our Second Household Hazardous-Waste Collection Day was an unbridled success. Period. Click here for a look at how that went.

    Now, the "What about this idea?" idea is evolving in two directions: The Northshore Community's response to our first two efforts is close to convincing the Parish that these must be regular events the public can plan around and rely on. However, there is no provision in the Parish budget for this! If you think management of hazardous houseold waste should be an important part of our local government's work, please contact Parish President Kevin Davis or your local Parish Councilman or the Parish Department of Environmental Services.

    Also....

    Parish-Wide Recycling

    Our exit survey at the Second Collection Day asked everyone if they were interested in a Parish-wide program, and their overwhelming answer was "Yes!" And, most respondants said they were willing to pay a nominal additional fee to get that to happen.

    While recycling is not the same as hazardous-waste collection, it represents the other half of the same problem: What to do with the detritus of our routine lives to prevent it from flowing into and spoiling the Northshore environment we all love?

    Did you know...

    The answer must be a "system", a way to separate the materials that will reasonably incinerate or decompose in landfills from those that will not, and then separate the latter into the toxic and recoverable groups -- and then provide mechanisms for processing all three.

    Creating regularly scheduled Household Hazardous-Waste Collection Days will be a big step, but a parallel recycling program will be just as important. Many residents think they have one now, but that may not be true! Curbside collection is just the beginning. Without cost-effective channels to process the materials, collectors are forced to simply dump the recycleables with the garbage in landfills. This is happening more than most Northshore residents think!

    Changing this will not be easy. Presently, municipalities contract for collection in incorporated areas, and individuals act independently elsewhere. Redesigning and implementing a Parish-wide system may be even more difficult than recent largely unsuccessful attempts at regional planning. Still, people moving here from other parts of the country are astonished at our lack of these services, and -- sooner or later -- we must join the rest of the country -- or we'll lose what Katrina left for us to enjoy.

    It all comes down to our commitments, what we are willing to do to save what we have.

    In the meantime, there's a printable list of recycling resources in our area here, and we have an interactive recycling web page here.

    Please check back here often for the latest information. This is as critical an issue as we face today!!

    Here are a few HHW FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions):

    What should I do with hazardous materials between collection days?

    Take a look at the latest version of our Northshore Recycling Directory for places to safely dispose of household and automobile batteries, cell phones, computers, light bulbs, and tires. We have a printable copy here. We also have an interactive web page here to guide you to places where you can recycle materials that are not hazardous.

    I have a small amount of latex paint in a can. Can I throw it away with the rest of my garbage?

    If the can Is less than one-half full, remove the lid, and add an absorbent material like kitty litter. Then place the can in a well-ventilated area that children and pets cannot reach, and let it dry. Once the paint is completely dry, place the can in the garbage with the lid off. Save cans that are more than one-half full for our next Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day.

    How can I find alternatives to hazardous household products?

    Here are some really helpful links:
  • Health and safety information about household products from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Nation Library of Medicine
  • Do-it-yourself recipes for effective, inexpensive and safe cleaning products
  • Safer alternatives to common hazardous household products
  • The Hazardless Home Handbook, a comprehensive guide to common hazardous ingredients, potential hazards, responsible uses and storage, proper waste management, and alternatives for most common hazardous household products

    How can I reduce the number of hazardous household products in my home?

    When you're shopping, try to think twice before you buy and look for safe substitutes.
  • Read labels.
  • Make sure the product will do what you want before purchasing.
  • Follow label directions for disposal.
  • Purchase only the amount you need and use up what you buy.
  • Avoid aerosols. Choose pump sprays and other alternatives.
  • Select water-based over solvent-based products when available.
  • Links to more information:
    Education World Age appropriate lesson plans and activities. Mercury:
    Gulf Restoration Network

    Health effects of mercury exposure
    Metro Portland, OR The Hazardless Home Handbook:† a comprehensive guide to household hazardous products, tips on storage and disposal, and safer alternatives (See the .PDF file) Gulf Restoration Network Sources of mercury in the environment
    Purdue University How to dispose of potentially household hazardous products Electronic Waste:
    INFORM

    Reducing computer waste
    Purdue University A comprehensive site with definitions, types of household hazardous products, prevention tips, student activities, and references (includes a "virtual house" where you can identify hazardous products room by room) Stop Computer Land Fill Amount and "recyclability" of materials in an average PC
    University of Missouri A Jeopardy-like game about household hazardous waste
    Home Services Engine A guide to household hazardous waste
    Kid's Web Identifying hazardous products and safer alternatives 
    Recycling:
    Earth 911

    Information on recycling many types of materials, plus Earth 911 education resources (See blue bar on left side of page)
    EPA EPA's "Recycle City": an interactive site with student activities
    EPA Garbage and recycling statistics
    EPA Examples of student recycling projects

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    Last updated: 3.28.2008