Mother Earth Living

Three Steps to a Greener Garage

Purge your toxic-waste “purgatory” of things you never use—but don’t just send stuff to the dump. Here’s a plan for making your garage a haven for your car—and for you.
By Misty McNally
May/June 2006
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1. Donate or swap safe, useful items.

Neighbors, friends or nonprofit groups may treasure lawn mowers, old bikes, tools—even vehicles—you never use.

2. Recycle responsibility.

In many states, automotive stores are required to accept and recycle as much used product as they’ve sold. (You may have to show a receipt.) Wal-Mart provides free disposal sites in many communities. Auto repair shops, tire stores, recycling centers and public-waste departments may recycle motor oil, automotive fluids, oil filters, car batteries and used tires.

3. Call a household hazardous waste site.

Many municipal waste programs have operations for handling substances that you should never dump into storm drains or on the ground. For recycling and household hazardous waste disposal help, check Earth911 or call its hotline at (800) 253-2687.

Be careful of how you dispose of these toxic items:
• fertilizers, weed-control products, pesticides
• paint, adhesives, finishes, solvents (wet or dry)
• empty containers that carry traces of toxins
• degreasers, car wax, other auto fluids

Motor Metamorphosis

Instead of... Try This Alternative
Phosphate-containing car-wash detergent Use phosphate-free dish soap and a bucket of water to wash your car. Park on the grass, which acts as a "filter" and keeps crud out of storm drains.
Conventional motor oil Buy already-recycled, re-refined motor oil. (Check with an auto-parts store.) American Petroleum Institute-licensed re-refined oils pass the same perforance tests that virgin oils do.
Chemical dashboard "conditioners" Clean your car's interior with a dust rag or barely soapy water.
Messy do-it-yourself oil changes Take your care to a shop that recycles auto fluids. A single quart of spilled motor oil could contaminate groundwater and kill fish and animals.







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