Many of us have hazardous and non-hazardous household waste products stored around our homes. Those are things like old anti-freeze and motor oil, paint and used tires, or discarded appliances and TVs. They're items that eventually need to be properly disposed of or recycled.
"We just don't want to see those left in a ditch," said Brett Benson, grant writer for environmental programs for the City of Hattiesburg. "Or, if people pour them down the drain or out in their yard or in their driveway or something like that, that eventually gets down into the groundwater."
"We can't afford to pollute any of our waterways, said Allyson Knotts, a representative with Keep Jones County Beautiful. "So, I think we're becoming more responsible, more aware."
Local and state officials want you to be more aware of different options for getting rid of your old hazardous and non-hazardous household waste in a safe and responsible manner, with the goal of protecting our rivers and streams and reducing the amount of material taken to the landfill.
One of the most popular ways is co-sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and takes place periodically. In Jones County, it's called the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day. In Forrest and Lamar Counties, it's known as the Right Way to Throw Away Day. At these events, folks can bring in paints, solvents, household chemicals and cleaners, along with all types of old electronic waste, free of charge. Many of the items are recycled.
"We'll hold it at the fairgrounds and people can drive through and basically, they can bring anything they've got, we will take," said Charles Miller, chief financial officer for Jones County. "We'll have a different station set up for anything that they can bring. And so, we do this every other year to try to help the residents that may have been storing this stuff around the house, a good way to get rid of it."
Another good way for Forrest County residents to unload some of their household waste is to take advantage of County Clean-Up Days, which take place twice each year. These are also co-sponsored by the Department of Environmental Quality. But, the items accepted at these events are restricted to non-hazardous waste products.
"We'll take in tires that end up going to a recycle product downstream," said Chris Bowen, District 5 supervisor for Forrest County. "We also take in electronic waste that we're able to get recycled. Everything from TVs to computers and we also take in white goods. All those things now come out of the waste stream and we're able to get those recycled."
Recycling can be done in other ways as well. For example, Hattiesburg's Batteries+Bulbs will take old light bulbs and batteries of all kinds from individuals at no cost and see that they're recycled.
"Any battery you want to bring us, we'll recycle, same with light bulbs, you bring them in, we'll recycle them," said Javier Barquero, franchise owner for the Hattiesburg Battieries+Bulbs. "We just ask, especially with the batteries, that you separate them by chemistry, and if you can, just wrap the terminals with tape and that way, they won't overheat when you're carrying them."
Also, you might consider donating some of your household waste, especially old appliances, to a charitable organization. The folks at the Edwards Street Fellowship Center's Thrift Store will glad to take some of those items off your hands.
"We take everything from cameras, TVs, computers, we have computers out on the (showroom) floor right now," said Tammy Matlock, thrift store manager. "(We take) any kind of appliances, stereos, just things you wouldn't think of or you've outgrown, there's somebody out there that has a need and we're able to meet those needs."
If you need any more ideas about waste recycling or disposal, you can go to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality's website at www.deq.state.ms.us. There, you can find tips on what to do with items like old paint, gasoline, pesticides, motor oil and other products. You can also contact MDEQ at either (601) 961-5171 or 1-888-786-0661.