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All forms of making, from electronics and crafts to DIY automotive, invariably produce some type of waste product. Not everything can be endlessly upcycled into something new. From exhausted batteries and spoiled paint products, to that unlabeled bottle of mysterious liquid in your basement, the question of what to do next with waste product and liquids in particular (oils, fuel, degreaser, etc.) can be challenging.

All of these products and more fall under the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) column, and thankfully, most municipal governments and counties have facilities to properly handle HHW disposal and treatment (quite often including recycling). So whether you decided to flush your vehicle’s radiator DIY-style, or have spent hydraulic fluid from your homemade flight simulator or submersible, call up your local government or search online for a collection site near you. Likewise ask your nearby automotive store, gas station, or hardware store if they have a collection program in place. You’d be surprised to learn what they accept. When drop-off or pick-up events take place (pictured above), they have the added benefit of spreading awareness and building community.

Some tips about HHW and your DIY projects to consider:

  • Never pour waste down storm drains, as they might connect with nearby rivers or streams.
  • Ask yourself, “Would I dump this on or bury this in my yard?” Probably not.
  • Don’t mix things! A good general rule to follow. Because, well, you never know!
  • Keep liquids in separate, labelled containers.
  • Befriend your local retailers, most of them will help you dispose of spent product properly. (For example I take batteries to a local hardware store, and metals to a nearby machining shop for recycling.)
  • Most importantly, have fun making – then act responsibly with the world around you!

Do you have other pointers or tips to share? Leave a comment below.


This post is brought to you by the new OE Fine Wire Spark Plug line from Bosch.


Image courtesy armyenvironmental

Nick Normal

I’m an artist & maker. A lifelong biblioholic, and advocate for all-things geekathon. Home is Long Island City, Queens, which I consider the greatest place on Earth. 5-year former Resident of Flux Factory, co-organizer for World Maker Faire (NYC), and blogger all over the net. Howdy!


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Comments

  1. zof says:

    Separate your metals by type and also by painted/non and save them up and take them to a scrap dealer, big money there if you save enough with the cost of base materials so much.

    Check your state laws too some places are required by law to take certain things back, such as a store selling new oil for an oil change might be required to recycle the used oil free of charge.

    Also some larger corporate retail stores might have their own policies about accepting certain materials in an effort to appear more green, a quick visit to their web site should describe these policies since its good PR.

    1. Nick Normal says:

      The comment about metal types and painted/non is a good point – I’ve ran into that before, and forgot to mention it. I’ve both made money from taking metal to a yard, as well as called a guy to come around and cart stuff away for me for free, knowing he will take it to a yard for cash. Both ways work for me!

  2. roofuskit says:

    Live near a Home Depot with a Tool Rental? They’re legally required to take your waste oil. They use a disposal service to remove their own waste oil and that requires them to also take your old engine oil. They should be happy to take any waste gas as well, 2 cycle or otherwise.

    (Old milk jugs work well for transporting the waste oil if you threw out your new bottles.)

    1. Nick Normal says:

      Both good comments – and I didn’t know the HD’s waste oil program was tied to their Tool Rental service. Thanks for reading!

  3. [...] From liquid metal fountains to switches, mercury has been used in the past for both its aesthetic and functional qualities. Today we know it should be handled with great caution. Mercury switches can still be found in gas ranges, thermostats, gas water heaters and furnaces, and even older washing machines. Before disposing of expired appliances you should check to make sure they do not still contain mercury, and some districts and states even have laws outlining safe disposal procedures. [...]

  4. [...] From liquid metal fountains to switches, mercury has been used in the past for both its aesthetic and functional qualities. Today we know it should be handled with great caution. Mercury switches can still be found in gas ranges, thermostats, gas water heaters and furnaces, and even older washing machines. Before disposing of expired appliances you should check to make sure they do not still contain mercury, and some districts and states even have laws outlining safe disposal procedures. [...]