Cleveland High School
Native Americans had a proverb that said, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”
We all have a duty to ensure that the Earth our descendants have is as good as the one that was given to us. One of the greatest threats facing our planet today is hazardous waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 1.6 million tons of hazardous waste originates from American households each year. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to dispose of hazardous waste in a safe and reliable way.
Hazardous waste is defined as any waste that provides an immediate or long-term threat to human, animals, plants, or the environment. Hazardous waste typically has one or more of the following characteristics: flammability, reactivity, toxicity, corrosiveness. A more detailed list can be found at epa.gov.
Once the hazardous materials have been identified, you can begin to dispose of them. One of the simplest and easiest ways to dispose of these materials is to donate them. For instance, the extra paint that you are trying to get rid of could be used by your friends to paint their living room or by your community to remove graffiti displays from public areas.
Even so, sharing isn’t always an option. Most hazardous waste must be properly disposed of. Some hazardous materials can be recycled. Examples of this include motor oil and batteries. Other hazardous materials have proper disposal techniques on their labels. However, the majority of hazardous materials come without any instructions.
Any center that accepts hazardous household waste will accept the following items: common electronics, brake fluids, dry cleaning fluid, engine degreaser, flea powder, epoxies, and adhesives, photographic chemicals, paint thinners, solvent-based cleaners and polishes, mothballs, wood preservatives, gasoline, pesticides, swimming pool chemicals, lacquer thinner, and kerosene. If there is not a center that accepts hazardous waste nearby, the hazardous waste can be stored until local collection days.
The future of the Earth is in our hands. Properly disposing of hazardous waste is a necessary and monumental step in the preservation of our planet. If we all do our part, future generations will be able to experience all the splendors Mother Nature has to offer; but if we are unable to do what is required of us, they will only inherit a desolate planet lacking all the wonders that we take for granted.