5 Ways to Hurt the Environment

We call her Mother Nature and then go and pollute her, destroy her and eviscerate her. Can you imagine doing the same to your own mother? I hope not. Environmental degradation is a serious topic and environmental protection is an even more serious discussion. And so today, we have with us Liam Tarry, a writer for Enviroco, who has come to enlighten us about a few ways we can help save the Earth. Continue Liam…

When it comes to throwing things away, many people simply open up their trashcan and throw them away without a thought for where they end up. From used batteries to household appliances, to leftover medicine, cell phones and paint pots, very few people realise that these are some of the most harmful objects to just toss into the trash.

“Oh come on,” you cry. “Surely a few dead batteries won’t do that much damage?”

Well yes, they do actually. They contain harmful chemicals, materials, toxins and heavy metals which can do lots of damage if they get into the soil and water supply.

With that in mind, one of the UK’s leading waste management companies Enviroco wants you to know the top five ways you can best hurt the environment. If you’ve got a heart, you’ll be sure to avoid some of these the next time you open up your trashcan lid:-

1. Batteries

English: Rechargeable batteries Português: Pil...

Rechargeable batteries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clock dead? Remote on the blink? Car battery giving up the ghost? Screw it! Get some new batteries and throw the old ones out!

Woah, woah, woah, stop right there buddy!

Did you know that this simple act is one of the best ways to damage the environment? Many batteries contain harmful metals and chemicals that can leak into the air and water supply. Single-use batteries, such as those you pick up in a drugstore are typically alkaline in nature and need to be recycled.

Rechargeable batteries, like the ones found in everyday household items like cameras, cell phones, laptops and power tools should also be recycled.

Car batteries contain lead, so you need to take them to your local waste management centre. Because they contain valuable materials, speak to your nearest auto retailer to see if they will “buy back” your used car batteries for recycling.

2. Household appliances

English: Self taken pic.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does your laptop resemble something from the Dark Ages? Perhaps your fridge or freezer are no longer the cool kids they once were? Well, that’s no good – sling ‘em out and get some new ones!


Old appliances, like fridges and freezers have dangerous chemicals in them, like CFCs and mercury. Around 10 million fridges are disposed of in the US each year, with 6 million ending up on landfill. That’s an impressive stat right there – lay them end to end and they’ll reach half-way to the moon!

According to federal law, old appliances which contain CFCs must be recovered – so speak to your local hazardous waste management centre. To avoid a nasty fine, you can choose to either donate your old fridge to charity or have it removed by a donation centre.

3. Cell phones and computers

English: Original iPhone 8GB, iPhone 3GS 16GB ...

Original iPhone 8GB, iPhone 3GS 16GB and iPhone 4 32GB. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The youth of today, huh? They always have to have the latest cell phone, don’t they? They can’t have something which works, oh no, that’s not cool enough. Oh well, give them what they want – a new Blackberry or iPhone and have them chuck their old one away.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the average person gets a new cell phone every 18 to 24 months. This means that many old phones, many of which contain hazardous metals like lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic, are simply tossed into the trashcan.

Like cell phones, electronic wastes like computers and laptops not only take up valuable landfill space, they also contain great amounts of hazardous materials and heavy metals.

Don’t become one of these statistics – there are a number of companies out there who will take your cell phone off your hands, for free, and pay you for the handset too! You could also think about donating your old computer to a homeless shelter or to the local schools.

4. Paint

English: image used in co-processing wiki

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ahh, paint…we need it to make our homes beautiful yet don’t care that it’s such an environment killer.

Bet you didn’t know that paint is one of the hardest things to dispose of properly? By its very nature it’s a very toxic material if it gets into the environment – yet once we are done decorating we just put the lid back on and throw it out with our normal trash.

However, rather than just tossing your paint pots away, why not give it to a friend or use it as primer? Alternatively you could donate it to charity, or contact a local theatre group – they are always looking for paint for backdrops!

If you simply can’t use it up though, you might need to throw it away. This can’t be helped, so we forgive you. For latex paint you need to take the lid off and leave it exposed to the air so it can harden. For oil-based paint this isn’t possible, so take it directly to your local hazardous waste centre.

5. Medicines

Pretty Pills

Pretty Pills (Photo credit: DraconianRain)

You were ill. You got better. Congratulations! We’re glad you’re feeling better.

“But I’ve got loads of pills left!” you say. “Shall I just flush them down the toilet?”

Well once upon a time we were told to do precisely that, and to hell with the consequences. However, drugs which are flushed or washed down the drain can get into our soil and water supply, creating an environmental hazard.

If you have old medicines you need to get rid of, make sure you contact your local pharmacy and see if they will take it back from you. If they don’t offer such a facility, contact your local hazardous waste management centre.

Your last bet is to speak to a charitable organisation – some medicines may still be good enough to be used in third world countries. A simple internet search should provide you with details.

About the Author:-

This guest post was provided by Liam at Enviroco where he writes articles and guides on all aspects of hazardous waste management. For more information on the eco-friendly waste management services we provide, please see our website or follow us on Twitter @envirocolimited.


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