Friday, November 2, 2012

Household Items - Did You Know?

                Hi everyone! I hope you’re all recovering well from Hurricane Sandy (if you were affected). We’re still cleaning up here in Lowell but for the most part we escaped unscathed.
Now on to the enticing blog title that has lead you to this page - There are things around your house that you use everyday, but when they break or you're ready for a new one, do you know how you will you get rid of the old one? Some of the items I listed below might surprise you while others are ones you’ve probably heard about before.
1.      Mattresses: I’m fairly confident in saying that almost everybody reading this blog has at least one mattress in their house. While mattresses are usually made to last for quite a while, at some point you’ll probably need to replace the one you have. That leaves you with an extra mattress and finding some way of getting rid of it. The days of leaving it out on the curb for the trash truck to pick up (in most cities and towns) are long gone so what’s the next option? Well, first let’s look at why you can’t just throw a mattress in the regular trash and why you’ll most likely be paying someone extra to take it away for you:

a.       Mattresses have many different materials in them, including fabric, foam, cotton, wood, and metal springs (most of which are recyclable), but separating all those materials can be quite a task - which means someone needs to take the time and do the work, and they're not going to do it for free!

b.      The other issue with mattresses is that most, if not all of them are treated with flame retardant (especially older ones) chemicals that can be toxic to humans and the environment. If the mattress ends up in a landfill, the chemicals can leach out into the groundwater and harm the environment so they must be disposed of carefully and properly.

2.       Televisions and Computer Monitors: Just like mattresses, I’m pretty certain that most people reading this blog have a TV in their house. That being said, this post is targeted more towards the old school TVs and monitors, you know the big clunky ones with the tube inside of them? (I just had the song "Money for Nothing" running through my head... I want my MTV...) Anyways, that tube inside is called a cathode ray tube (CRT) and what’s contained inside that tube is lead… up to 8% of the total weight of the TV in fact. The lead is contained within the glass of the tube and ironically is meant to protect the viewer from harmful X-ray emissions. In Massachusetts, if you want to get rid of a TV, you need to pay someone extra to dispose of it and here’s why: TVs and monitors are usually dismantled by hand to isolate the CRT and send it to the proper recycling facility along with all the other parts of the TV/monitor including plastic, metals, and circuit boards. Similar to mattresses, this requires someone spending time to do this task - nobody is going to "move those color TVs" (sorry, the song popped into my head again) for free!

3.       Tires: Tires are an item we all use, probably every day of our lives to get to and from places but what happens when you need to get rid of them? They are yet another item you can’t just simply place in the trash. It all starts in the manufacturing process of tires. We all know tires are made from rubber but what most people probably don’t know is that tires undergo a process called “vulcanization” (no, I’m not talking about Star Trek here). Without getting too technical, vulcanization involves adding sulfur to the rubber. The process, while improving the strength and resilience of the tire rubber, also makes recycling the tires when we’re done with them quite difficult. Because of the modified properties of the rubber, they can’t just simply be melted down like other rubber substances. Instead, the tires are usually mechanically shredded and processed for use in other materials, which takes both time and resources.

4.       Refrigerators/Air Conditioners: These are probably the items people know the most about since they tend to get the most press. Older fridges and AC units contain Freon, a refrigerant that when released to the atmosphere contributes to ozone depletion. In order to dispose of a refrigerator or AC unit properly, it must be processed (you guessed it, by hand) and the refrigerant removed before the rest of the material can be recycled appropriately. Here is a great link from the EPA that fully explains the ins and outs of disposing refrigerated household appliances.

Question: How many of you have an extra or broken one of these items hanging around your house that you’ve avoided getting rid of?
Last Words: I hope you learned something from this post, I know I did (yes, even the Queen of junk will admit she doesn't know everything!) while I was writing it. I wouldn't be the Queen if I didn't tell you that Junk King can haul away all these items for you and while the King and I do have to charge extra for some of them, I hope this blog post helps you better understand why!

Thanks for reading!

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