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Living on Karst

A Reference Guide for Landowners in Limestone Regions

Produced by the Cave Conservancy of the Virginias, June 1997

Household Wastes


Many household wastes can be recycled. Aluminum cans and foil, glass, paper, scrap metal, and old appliances can all be recycled. These items can be recycled at recycling centers. Another option is to give items to be recycled to charitable organizations which often collect recyclables to raise funds.

Some Waste Requires Special Management

Used Oil: Oil dumped on the ground into sinkholes or into landfills may pollute surrounding wells and springs. Recycling is by far the safest and most economical method for disposing of used oil. Simply drain your oil into a closeable container and take it to a local service station or oil collection center. Used oil is collected from service stations and garages by licensed oil processors and refined for reuse as an economical industrial fuel.

Leaves and Yard Waste: In the fall and spring, a significant portion of municipal solid waste is made up of leaves and yard waste. When this material is composted, or allowed to decompose naturally, it produces a valuable soil conditioner and conserves landfill space.

Hazardous Household Wastes: Many common household consumer products have characteristics which make them "hazardous," meaning they are poisonous, flammable, explosive, or corrosive. Such products as pesticides, wood stains, polishes, paint thinners and strippers, antifreeze, and batteries have been linked to serious health and environmental problems.

What can we do with these materials?

First of all, each of us must accept responsibility for the safe use and disposal of household products. We can reduce the quantity of hazardous chemicals we use by becoming informed consumers.

  • Read the label carefully before purchasing the material.
  • Buy only what is needed for the job.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the label.
  • Use up the product or give it to someone who can.
  • Communities across the country have successfully organized "Household Hazardous Waste Collection Days." Residents bring unused products to a central location where specially trained workers separate the recyclables and carefully pack the non-recyclables. A licensed hazardous waste hauler transports the materials to an appropriate disposal facility.