Garage/Storage: Part 1 – Recycling and Disposal Tips from Your Atlanta Professional Organizer
Cleaning out and organizing the garage or storage area often comes with its own unique challenges. Whether you’re doing a total clean-out because of a move, or a much-needed tune-up, your Atlanta Professional Organizer and Move Manager has some handy recycling and disposal tips.
The garage is the entrance most families use when entering their home so it’s worthy of some attention and respect, don’t you think? It’s one of those places many folks dump things because they’ve run out of room inside the house. There’s no telling what you’ll find there. We’ve discovered everything from irreplaceable photos, nice furniture, unpacked boxes (from a move ten years ago) to dead rodents, even snakes. Double eeeek!!
One of the first things to tackle when organizing a garage or storage area is getting rid of the stuff you no longer need– recycling what you can and safely disposing of hazardous stuff that has no business in a landfill.
Here are some common things found in the garage or storage area that can easily be recycled:
- Boxes and cardboard
- Newspapers, magazines and paper
- Plastic bags and wraps
- Aluminum cans and tin/steel cans
- Scrap metal – car parts, lawn equipment, rusty tools, pipes
If you’re fortunate to have your trash service include recycling, they’ll pick up many of these items in their recycling bins. Be sure to check with them first to find out what they will accept and not accept for recycling. In addition, most counties have free recycling centers – simply check on your county government’s website for a list of recycling centers near you.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hazardous waste is anything that is dangerous or potentially harmful to our health or the environment. It can include liquids, solids, gases, or sludge. Undoubtedly, we all have hazardous waste lurking in our home – anything from oven cleaner, ammonia, flea collars, nail polish remover, oil based paint in rusty old paint cans, you name it. You can be sure that anything that has skull and crossbones on the label, or the words poison, hazardous, danger, or cautions you to ventilate the area, is hazardous and must be not be thrown in the trash or down the sink. Some hazardous materials, commonly found in the garage, include:
- Paint – latex, oil-based and spray, varnish
- Paint thinners, turpentine, paint strippers
- Batteries – general household and rechargeable
- Lawn products – Insecticides, herbicides, fungicides
- Car fluids – motor oil, brake fluid, antifreeze, engine degreasers
- Household cleaners – some of the worst offenders are Simple Green all-purpose cleaner, rust & stain removers, oven cleansers, and degreasers
So what do you do with the stuff? A great resource to check for the safe disposal of practically anything is Earth911 – there’s even an app for your phone.
Your waste hauler will take paint if it’s in hardened form. The best way to solidify paint is to add kitty litter, sawdust, gravel, or paint hardener and leave the lid off the can for a couple weeks so it can harden. Paint thinners, mineral spirits, and turpentine can be reused. Place a lid on the container that you cleaned your brushes in and let the paint particles settle to the bottom. After several days, pour the liquid through a coffee filter into a clean, closeable container for reuse on a future project.
Remember: ONLY purchase the amount of paint that you need by calculating the square footage. If paint is left over, consider applying a second or third coat until all paint is used. If you have cans of paint that are full (or almost full), consider donating it to a Habitat for Humanity Home Improvement ReStore or have a local paint store recycle the paint for a fee, typically around $5 per can.
Used batteries of all kinds may be dropped off at a local Batteries Plus store for recycling. They also accept portable electronic devices such as cell/smartphones, laptop/netbooks, MP3s, PDAs and portable tools for recycling. Best Buy also accepts nearly all electronics and old appliances.
Car fluids such as motor oil, brake fluid, even car batteries, may be dropped off at Advance Auto Parts locations.
Some communities have a Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Day – so check online to see if one is coming up in your area in the near future. Also, don’t forget to offer your unwanted hazardous stuff to your family, friends and neighbors. You know what they say … one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
If you need help to declutter and make the most of your garage and storage space, please reach out to the Real Order team today!