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Yes, Throw It Out—Safely

2010 January 28

In last week’s blog “When In Doubt, Throw It Out!,”

I discussed the use of toxic metals in some toy jewelry and metal trinkets produced overseas. As the title suggested, I recommended if you were concerned over the potential toxicity and risks of these toys, the best thing to do was to dispose of these products. However, I didn’t address another legitimate concern: is it safe for the environment to simply throw these articles in the trash? Well, the answer is yes. I will explain why.

First of all, I would like to thank two individuals, Mauricio D’Achiardi and Joan, for their comments last week. They actually posed the question regarding the proper disposal of these toy trinkets. Since I didn’t have an answer, I consulted with our experts in the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. The guidance is: “Consumers can check with their local recycling facility to see if they collect these kinds of contaminated jewelry and trinkets. To find a local recycling facility, they can go to www.earth911.com . If their local recycling facility doesn’t take these articles, consumers can go ahead and throw them in the trash. Our modern landfills are made to be able to hold such contamination without leaking it into the environment.” So, we can dispose of these safely.

For more information on the disposal of waste, please visit our Website. For information on product recalls and keeping people safe in and around the home, visit the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Neighborhood Safety Network. And please keep those comments coming. We all can learn from this Greenversation.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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13 Responses leave one →
  1. Joan permalink
    January 28, 2010

    Thanks Lina–
    good to know!

  2. armansyahardanis permalink
    January 28, 2010

    Mom,……. I think you are consistent human. Good !!! Weeks ago, you threw plastics from this planet and now throwing toys, in here – indonesia, its almost made of plastics. Ya, we are different condition.

  3. ken permalink
    January 28, 2010

    I have the opportunity to get tons of clothing that is now going to the dump that could be use to burn to make electric. I have been unable to find this business, what do you think?

  4. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    January 29, 2010

    That’s good to know about the landfills. But there are still some things that should not go there. One is electronic waste. Our city is having its third electronic waste roundup next month. The last two generated over 600 pounds worth each and there is still more to collect. Several weeks ago someone had tossed a 36 inch television into Oso Creek and our public works department went and fished it out. The same day the city had the second electronic waste roundup, someone left 2 used tvs next to one of the trash dumpster pads at our condo complex that had to be picked up and taken for recycling by our management company, and today someone put a tv into one of the complex’s recycling dumpsters. Household batteries are another thing that can’t go to the landfills so the city maintains battery collection points people can bring old batteries to for recycling at the library, the City Hall lobby, the recreation centers, the senior center, and the Animal Services Center. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  5. Shane permalink
    January 29, 2010

    Greenversations… Love the title Lina.

    My reply is to Ken. I’d say send them to someone in need. Many people around the country don’t have proper clothing. In fact around the world there are even more that could use clothes.

    Instead of looking for a way to burn them for energy, why not donate them where they are needed so that people may conserve their energy instead? How about Skid Row.. or Haiti maybe… Just a thought.

    And in regards to modern landfills Lina, well we don’t have anything that’s really modern around here but we’ll be careful of what we toss.

    Cheers to a good post worth reading.

    To Health And Success,
    Shane in Wyo
    twitter.com/cominback

  6. Lina-EPA permalink*
    January 29, 2010

    FYI–wanted to share with you the new PR from CPSC—They are recalling some children necklaces from the market due to cadmium content!!!!!1

  7. Al Bannet permalink
    January 29, 2010

    Lina Younes:

    Please explain why you think throwing things in the trash is safe just because it goes into a landfill. What happens to the junk after it is dumped in a growing mountain of trash, among other growing mountains of trash? Are such mountains ever safe filled with every toxin imaginable? What will eventually happen to those ever-growing mountains? I know you don’t like to think about it, but some one must.

  8. Lina-EPA permalink*
    January 29, 2010

    Hi, Shane
    Glad you liked the post. Might have a follow-up next week.

  9. Al Bannet permalink
    February 1, 2010

    Obviously, EPA representatives are reluctant to answer critical questions and comments.

  10. David Mc permalink
    February 3, 2010

    I’m not from the EPA Al, but at least the trash isn’t thrown out millions of back-doors- it’s corralled somewhat. They usually are monitored for many pollutants in the groundwater, and methane gas is often captured for energy, a strong greenhouse gas. Many times the land eventually becomes public parks, ski hills and such.

    A good answer, buy your kids one piece of decent jewelery instead of 50 pieces of heavy-metal junk. One nice, lasting quality educational or fun play toy he/she might want to leave to their own grandchildren when they grow, rather than 563 Happy Meal toys or other cheap fad toys that end in that land-fill, etc, etc. The EPA doesn’t dictate our collective life-styles, the EPA is charged to DEAL with the RESULTS with our life-styles. If they ever try to, they’re sure to get nastier comments than yours from our freedom neighbors. You’re spit-balling the choir. Do you know how many Superfund sites the EPA is still dealing with? Talk about mountains.

  11. David Mc permalink
    February 3, 2010

    freedom “loving” that is.

  12. Lina-EPA permalink*
    February 4, 2010

    To Al Bannett and David Mc

    I refer you to my 3rd blogpost on this issue. http://blog.epa.gov/blog/2010/02/04/when-in-doubt-throw-out-safely%e2%80%94part-3/

    There is a huge difference between the disposal of these trinkets and hazardous waste sites. I was not trying to be flip about any of this.

    I do agree that it is better to by one piece of good jewelry instead of these metal trinkets, but you don’t think twice of it when you deam it as just “a toy.” It should be safe from the get go without having to go through recalls at a later date.

    I appreciate your input and this greenversation.

  13. Sharon Itzhaki permalink
    June 30, 2011

    Thank you for sharing

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