These Everyday Items Should Actually Be Treated Like Hazardous Waste

5 March 2017
 Categories: Environmental, Blog


Much of what you use daily can be recycled in some way, but other items need to be disposed of carefully because they are too hazardous to go in the trash. Some of these are items that you use on your body or even ingest daily because the ingredients, method of delivery, or potential other uses can have adverse environmental effects.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol, has several household and personal uses. Clean your pierced earlobes with a little alcohol on a cotton swab, remove old bandage adhesive from your hand, get random stains off random materials, and do much, much more. But this is not something that you can toss down the sink, even with the water running to dilute it (and despite online sites telling you to just dump it). It is flammable and not something you want running down into treatment plants and then local bodies of water. Granted, a tiny amount might not be a problem, but if you have an unused or partially used bottle that you want to get rid of, don't waste the water by trying to dilute it. Bring the bottle to your city's hazardous waste disposal center.

Cooking Spray Cans

These are aerosol cans, so they can explode if there's anything left in them. If the can is empty (a little left in there is OK, but it shouldn't spray), then you can toss the can in the garbage. But if there's enough left in there to spray, take it to a hazardous waste disposal facility.

There's one more reason to take it there. Cooking spray is oil or fat-based, so if the can explodes in the trash, now you've got a slippery mess to deal with. This can be very bad for garbage trucks as the liquid can leak out of the garbage compartment, coating the road with oil.


Pseudoephedrine is an effective decongestant, but it's also something people can use to make meth, hence all the regulations around its sale. So if you have half a pack or so that has expired, throwing it in the trash is not the best route -- it's too easy for a dumpster diver to find them. First look for a medicine take-back program through your doctor's office, a hospital, or the police. Failing that, contact a household hazardous waste facility to see if they take medications. Some regions do allow disposal of this medication in the trash if it is wrapped up securely (as in, duct-taped beyond recognition), but don't do that until you've checked out take-back and disposal programs.

Hazardous waste management facilities exist to help get rid of this stuff safely. If you have any questions, you can contact the one nearest you and find out what they want you to do with the items.