Prevent pollution at its source this Pollution Prevention Week, September 15-21

Reduce pollution at its source this Pollution Prevention Week, September 15-21

September 13, 2013

Prevent Pollution at Its Source

(Arcata, CA) – September 15 through 21 is National Pollution Prevention Week, a week honoring the 1990 Pollution Prevention Act’s goal of preventing or reducing pollution at the source whenever feasible. The City of Arcata Environmental Services Department wants to help you keep household and hazardous waste out of the waste stream and waterways this week and all year long.

Space in landfills is becoming scarce, but the good news is that eight out of every nine pounds of garbage from the average California household are potentially recyclable or compostable. Some easy ways to cut down on household waste include buying bulk instead of prepackaged foods, buying washable dishware, towels, diapers and tote bags instead of disposables and avoiding polystyrene take out containers whenever possible. Take a frugal tip from previous generations and repair things rather than replace them. Donate what’s no longer needed and recycle and compost whenever possible.

It is estimated that every home contains up to eight gallons of hazardous material like pesticides, paints and cleaning products. Consider using safer cleaning and gardening alternatives and buy only what you can use up. Old cleaners and motor oil poured onto the ground or down the drain end up in Humboldt Bay, causing problems for fish and other wildlife. Instead, residents can drop off household hazardous waste for a five dollar fee on the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. or on weekdays by appointment at the Humboldt Waste Management Authority's Household Hazardous Waste Facility at 1059 West Hawthorne Street in Eureka. Call (707) 441-2005 for details.

And finally, please do not flush unused medicine down the toilet or put it in the trash. Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove pharmaceuticals from wastewater and we now know that these medicines can create antibiotic-resistant bacteria and affect marine life. These hormone, antidepressant and antibiotic medications can also find their way into our drinking water and affect human health. Please put these old medicines into a sandwich bag and bring them to the Humboldt Waste Management Authority's Household Hazardous Waste Facility on the first Saturday of each month or weekdays by appointment or drop them off at an Open Door Community Health Center. 

For details on how to safely dispose of hazardous waste and tips for reducing pollution at the source, go to the City of Arcata website at and search “hazardous waste.” The City’s Environmental Services Department also has a free household waste reduction guide. Pick one up at Arcata City Hall of call (707) 822-8184 for more information.