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The Garage: Proper Disposal Of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

People are often surprised by the things they find when they move, and sometimes even more by surprised by how to get rid of it. Do you know how to properly dispose of: old medication, latex paint, batteries and automotive products?! That’s right…today’s topic may not by glamorous or gutsy…but it’s important, so this week’s blog is dedicated to the good, the bad and the ugly: hazardous waste.


You often think of ‘hazardous’ to define products that do more harm than good. But as you clean out that garage (or that hidden abyss under your kitchen sick), many items considered hazardous have actually helped you accomplish quite a bit around the house! That pink paint used for your baby girl’s bedroom, the stain used for the back deck last summer…even your first laptop (now 10+ years old!): these items require proper disposal even though they aren’t carrying a skull and cross-bones on them. But where do you start?!




First of all, don’t assume that your mover can help. Check with your moving company, but most movers require that you manage the removal of these items from your premise before moving day, may refer you to some resources in advance or will charge a premium if they have to haul and dispose of on-site.


Second, make piles of similar type items that require deliberate removal.  

• E-waste includes televisions, computers, entertainment devices and cell phones.

• Pharmaceutical waste should NOT be flushed; utilize medication drop-off facilities for most prescriptions. Note: controlled substances may ONLY be dropped off where law enforcement is present.

• Specialty drop-off centers can accept button batteries, CFL bulbs, vapor lamps, fluorescent lights and mercury thermometers.

•Most other products include chemicals and cleaners that fall into the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection category.

***See our ‘Resource List’ at the end of this post for links to these types of collection and disposal services all over the Bay Area & beyond.


Third, don’t get lazy and sneak those items into the trash. We all know that it is far easier to throw everything away than to sort, organize and research what to do with it all. But when it comes to chemicals, medications and mercury based products, the risk to human health and the environment is simply too great. Water contamination, injury, birth defects, poisoning (animals too), chemical fires and overall pollution are all the direct result of improperly disposed of hazardous waste.



Last but not least, you can prevent some hazardous waste from building up to begin with, whether you are moving or not! There are many natural and even homemade cleaning products that use vinegar, baking soda and borax as the activator; check Pinterest or email us at info@topmovemgmt.com for some ideas. With regards to paint and stains, consider purchasing less. (Buy 3 gallons, get 2 free may be tempting, but not if you only need 1 to begin with!) Sharing with a neighbor, donating to a school or non-profit in need and re-purposing are also practical ways to deal with older electronics, leftover paint and automotive items.


Whether your hazardous waste has served you for good, works pretty bad…or smells downright ugly…there is a defined way to dispose of it. Check out our complete list of resources below, and let us know if we can help!


All the best,


Helen & Julie




Good, Bad & Ugly Resource List: Proper Waste Disposal


• County of San Mateo Health System: HHW Collection Program



• Re-Think Waste Door-To-Door HHW Program: For Residents in Atherton, Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos, City of San Mateo, Unincorporated San Mateo County & West Bay Sanitary District



• County of Santa Clara: Recycling & Waste Reduction Division



• Santa Cruz County Recycles: Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off



• Save The Bay: Household Toxics, Pharmaceuticals, E-Waste & Mercury Thermometer Exchange Locations Across The Bay Area



• Environmental Protection Agency: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (Includes how, why, where & more…)



• Call2Recycle: No-cost business, consumer & municipal battery & cell phone recycling.



• Earth 911: Projects, Recycle Locations & Events







Helen Ingwersen