A home for hazardous wastes

I have a growing pile on my workbench of things I would like to recycle: burnt-out compact fluorescent-light bulbs, household batteries, a large battery, several cell phones, a couple of buckets of paint and an old mercury thermometer. Is there one place that will take all of this? It does not seem very “green” to drive all over town to recycle these small items.

Don’t worry; I always measure how progressive a person is by the piles lying around his or her house: a decade’s worth of copies of The Nation; empty milk cartons and jelly jars, cleaned and drying on the countertops in anticipation of their reuse; thick books about political conspiracy—I mean—progressive theories.

But on the off chance that you will actually purge your clutter through my advice, I’ll assume my position on the soapbox:

All of the items you mentioned are classified as “household hazardous waste” and can be properly disposed of at the North Area Recovery Station (4450 Roseville Road, (916) 875-5555). Visit www.sacgreenteam.com for a comprehensive list of HHWs accepted by the station. Any electronic waste, or “e-waste,” like TVs, DVD players, microwaves and so on, are subject to a drop- off fee and a per-item charge (visit www.msa.saccounty.net/sacgreen team/ewaste.htm for more information). You can also check out www.noewaste.com for free local e-waste recycling events at public places that might be closer to your home.

If e-waste items regularly pile up on your workbench, in your home, at your office or anywhere in your life, you might consider joining the Big Green Box program (www.BigGreenBox.com). The company sends you a, um, big green box, which you then fill with cell phones, power tools, calculators, cameras, PDAs, laptops and all lithium alkaline, lead, mercury, nickel-cadmium, nickel metal-hydride, magnesium, silver, zinc and lead batteries. It’s not inexpensive at first glance, but one $58 box includes shipping and handling costs to and from your home or office. And you can save money with larger orders of multiple boxes. Just fill it up, seal it and send it off for proper disposal.