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April is a great month for Spring cleaning.  Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22, and is a perfect time to think about recycling.  National Take-Back Initiative Day is on Saturday, April 26, when you can safely bring in expired or unused drugs. Here are some ideas for cleaning and disposing of your unwanted items.

Hazardous Waste

Surprisingly, our homes actually contain hazardous waste - aerosol cans, batteries, motor oil, antifreeze, paint, and pesticides are just a few.  To avoid contaminating the environment or harming children or pets, all of these items need to be disposed of properly.  Earth911.com, is a huge clearinghouse for recycling info, great tips, and interesting DIY projects.  In Houston, check out the solid waste website for disposal locations.  http://www.houstontx.gov/solidwaste/hhw.htm 

Piled-Up Plastic Containers

You probably have a cabinet in your kitchen full of plastic containers.  April is a great time to play the matching game and see just how many containers you have with a lid that fits. 

Check for recycle codes 3 or 7.  Those containers may contain BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical that leaches into food as containers age or get heated in the microwave or dishwasher. Tupperware made before 2010 can also have BPA.  Replace with new plastic or glass containers, which do not contain the chemical. For more information on recycling in your area, click on http://www.houstontx.gov/solidwaste/recycling.htm

Expired or Unused Drugs

Got some old medications taking up space?  Get rid of your old drugs in a safe, legal, eco-friendly way. Empty the pills into a ziptop plastic bag and take them to official collection sites on National Take-Back Initiative Day, Saturday, April 26, from 10:00 – 2:00. Call 1-800-882-9539 for locations in your neighborhood.  The pill bottles can be recycled, too.  Be sure to remove the personal information on the labels first.

Old Spices

Those old, dried up spices that are stuck to the jars won’t actually make you sick.  They’re also not going to be very tasty in your food or impart any nutrients either. The experts at McCormick say seasoning blends last 1 to 2 years; herbs and ground spices, 1 to 3 years; and whole spices, up to 4 years.

Moldy Makeup

Makeup can be a breeding ground for bacteria – especially in eye makeup.  Mascara has the shortest shelf life (2 to 3 months), followed by lip gloss (6 months). Replace foundation after 6 months to 1 year, at most.

Crusty Contact Lenses

Yuck!  Poor cleaning and hygiene means that up to 92% of contact lens cases are contaminated according to studies. Eye experts and the government say cases should be replaced every month to 3 months.  Be sure to clean and air-dry (facedown) daily. Ditch the soaking solution every day and start fresh — no topping off or reusing.

Pitiful Pillows

Grossed out by those commercials about old mattresses?  What about your pillow?  Allergies, asthma, and sinusitis can be aggravated the fungi, dead skin, and dust mites in pillows over 18 months old.  When you fold your pillow in half and squeeze out the air, if it doesn’t spring back it’s time to get a new one.   

Expired Canned Foods

Just because it’s in a can doesn’t mean going to last forever.  Canned meat and veggies are good for up to 5 years, canned tomatoes and veggies for about 18 months. 

Germy Kitchen Sponge

According to microbiologist Philip Tierno, Ph.D., of New York University, the kitchen sponge is harbors bacteria in damp crevices and is the yuckiest thing in most households.  To combat those germs, start fresh with a new kitchen sponge. To cut contamination, microwave your sponge daily in an inch of water for 60 seconds on high heat.  Set the sponge out to air dry.

At Dean & Draper we want to help you keep your home and family safe.  We hope you find these tips helpful. 

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.