Fifteen years ago, according to Elizabeth Royte in “Bottlemania,” a Pepsi Cola vice president told investors: “when we are done, tap water will be relegated to showers and washing dishes.” They have pretty much succeeded; bottled water has come from nowhere to be a huge business, with Americans drinking 50 billion bottles of it every year. At the same time, public water fountains have been disappearing. As people have moved to bottled water, municipalities have cut back to save money on expensive maintenance.
Commercial laundry products are typically made from a combination of chemicals that may include surfactants, bleaching agents, and enzymes intended to remove dirt from textiles and fragrance to add a “clean” scent. Dryer sheets are infused with strong fragrances. While some chemicals common in laundry products are known skin irritants, the extent of the environmental and health impacts from laundry detergent and dryer sheets is not fully understood. Complicating matters further, manufacturers are not required to disclose their ingredients. A 2011 study found that scented laundry products emit VOCs including the carcinogens acetaldehyde and benzene. Unscented environmentally friendly laundry products are safer alternatives to traditional laundry products.
Do you have an old non-working computer stashed away somewhere in your garage, attic, or closet because you’re not sure how to dispose of it? Do you have a stack of CDs with old backups on them that you no longer need? An old printer or monitor? Power cords or connector cables that you don’t use?
Here are a few suggestions for how to dispose of these items safely and responsibly.