Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring into April with a GREEN home

From FDEP:




~DEP offers environmentally friendly tips for thinking green when spring cleaning~


TALLAHASSEE- Spring is here and it's time for spring cleaning. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) encourages residents to think green when spring cleaning this year by using eco friendly cleaning products, finding new life for unused items and properly disposing unwanted medications.


"Spring cleaning is the perfect time to begin making choices that protect Florida's natural environment," said DEP Director of Sustainable Initiatives Deas Bohn. "Whether choosing to use non-toxic green cleaners, learning the proper methods for prescription drug disposal or implementing a household recycling plan, these choices not only protect and preserve natural resources, but help to save money and protect human health too."


Many common cleaning products are hazardous to the environment when poured down the drain or thrown away. Consumers can use recipes to make cleaners at home  that are equally as effective as traditional products, and safer for people and the environment. DEP offers tips and recipes for "green" cleaning at:


For those who don't have time to make their own cleaners, there are now hundreds of environmentally friendly products widely available through stores and the Internet.  Important safety and environmental features of these products include being non-toxic, biodegradable, made from renewable resources and petroleum-free.  The Green Seal, EcoLabel or other third party certification assures environmentally friendly contents. Old cleaners should be properly disposed of at the nearest city or county household hazardous waste collection center rather than being thrown in the trash.


Another way to think green this spring is to find new life for unused or unwanted items. DEP offers the following tips to give unwanted items a second life:

1.      Non-profit thrift stores accept gently used items and usually gives donors a receipt to use for tax purposes.

2.      Give away old clothing, household items or lawn care items to a neighbor, friend, or co-worker who may need them.

3.      Freecycle Network is a web-based, nonprofit organization that helps people offer up items that other people will happily take ( Also, you can offer things for free to people in your area on an online bulletin board or newspaper.

4.      Host a yard sale or sell your older items on an online bulletin board.

5.      Recycle everything that you can, such as small pieces of unfinished wood, glass jars and boxes gathering dust in your garage. Also, recycle household hazardous wastes such as oil, batteries, fluorescent lamps, paint, and pesticides (

6.      Recycle unwanted televisions and electronics. Recycling your television, instead of throwing it away keeps waste out of landfills, and allows the recovery of electronic components that contain lead and other toxic materials. (

7.      Convert scrap paper into telephone answering pads or scratch pads. Print drafts on the blank side of used paper. Reuse file folders and ring binders.

8.      Many office product suppliers will take back empty ink/toner cartridges, recycle them for you, and allow store credit towards future purchases. ( will pay up to $1 for returned ink/toner cartridges.

9.      Reuse packing cartons and shipping papers.

10.  Save and reuse gift boxes, ribbons and larger pieces of wrapping and tissue paper.


In addition, when disposing of expired or unwanted prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications this spring, it is important to choose a method of disposal that won't compromise the environment. The preferred method of disposal is with the household garbage rather than flushing medication down the toilet or drain. This method helps protect Florida's water bodies and drinking water by reducing pharmaceutical traces.


"The proper disposal of expired or unwanted medications helps protect Florida's residents and visitors as well as local waters and aquatic life," said Mary Jean Yon, Director of DEP's Division of Waste Management. "We encourage all Florida residents and visitors to be smart about the appropriate methods for disposal of unwanted medications as well as household items and cleaning products."


To protect the environment, please use these guidelines instead of flushing medications:

1.      Keep in the original container. This will help identify the contents if they are accidentally digested.

2.      Mark out your name and prescription number for safety.

3.      For pills, add some water or soda to start dissolving them. For liquids, add something inedible like cat litter or dirt.

4.      Close the lid and secure with duct tape or packing tape.

5.      Place the bottle(s) inside an opaque (non see-through) container like a detergent container.

6.      Tape that container closed.

7.      Hide the container in the trash. Do not put it in the recycle bin.


To increase recycling throughout Florida, last summer Governor Charlie Crist signed into law the Energy, Climate Change, and Economic Security Act of 2008 which establishes a new statewide recycling goal of 75 percent to be achieved by 2020.  Within the law DEP is directed to develop a program to achieve this goal and submit it to the Florida Legislature for consideration by January 1, 2010.  For more information on the new statewide recycling goal of 75 percent, and to share your comments on ways to achieve this goal and view comments from others on our web-based forum, visit


For information on where to recycle, contact the local county recycling coordinator by visiting  Another excellent resource is Earth 911.  Call 1-800-CLEANUP or visit


For more information on the proper disposal of unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications, visit


DEP's Office of Sustainable Initiatives is comprised of three voluntary, non-regulatory programs that assist Florida industry and citizens in protecting the environment. The Clean Marina Program, the Florida Green Lodging Program and the Florida Pollution Prevention Program offer a variety of services including on-site assessments, consultations, speakers and workshops, all at no cost to citizens or organizations. The goal of the Sustainable Initiatives programs is to meet the needs of the present population without compromising resources for future generations. To learn more about DEP's Sustainable Initiatives, visit


To learn more about DEP's P2 Program, visit






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