I am admittedly a little late to the party, but my home, like many others, has been swept up in the organizing craze inspired by Marie Kondo’s Netflix special. Slowly but surely, I have “tornadoed” my way from one room to the next, leaving no closest untouched, tossing out items that fail to “spark joy”. The end result will hopefully be a home that is less cluttered, easier to clean, and contains only belongings that we truly treasure. In the meantime my family is wading through piles, boxes, and bags of stuff as I work through the organizing process. I only hope no one will drop by unannounced before I’m done!
One of the last “rooms” I need to address is our garage, home to boxes of holiday decorations, heirlooms that are too precious to giveaway but not stylish enough to display, and old half-filled containers of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. I have been sorting my unwanted belongings into three piles: throw away, give away, and garage sale. This system works for the old clothes, books, and electronics that have cluttered up my living space but is not really applicable to the assortment of partially used chemicals and empty containers taking up shelf space in my garage.
As an Extension Agent, I know that the University of Florida can be counted on to provide unbiased, research based solutions to many of our daily problems, and so I turned to U.F. Extension to help me decide how to best handle my garage clutter. EDIS is an online library of Extension publications available free of charge to the public. These publications address everything from keeping honeybees, to testing soil, to disposing of chemicals safely. According to one helpful EDIS publication I found (available at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pi060 if you would like to read it yourself), empty chemical containers should never be saved or reused for any reason. The only exception to this might be certain pesticide dispensers that are designed to be refilled with the same product. Some empty containers may be recycled but it is important that you first follow the label instructions to see what, if any, special steps need to be followed before recycling. Empty containers should never be disposed of by burning, as they may release harmful fumes.
That takes care of my empty containers, but what about those that have some product left? First of all it is important to never, ever pour unwanted chemicals down the drain or on the ground. In Lake County, unused pesticides and other household chemicals, can be brought to the Household Hazardous Waste Center at the County Landfill off of 561 in Tavares Monday-Saturday from 8am to 5pm. Waste should be transported to the facility in the rear of your vehicle and not left in the vehicle for an extended period of time. For more information about disposing of hazardous waste in Lake County, please call the Solid Waste Customer Service line at 352-343-3776.
Ideally you can minimize the need to dispose of pesticide by only purchasing them in the quantity needed thus eliminating the need to store excess or dispose of unused product. Make sure to keep your products in their original container so you can refer to the label for proper handling procedures. Do not store unused product for an extended period of time and make a habit of regularly inventorying your chemicals and disposing of unused chemical in a timely fashion. For questions about the safe use and disposal or pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers please contact the UF/IFAS Lake County Extension Office at 352-343-4101.