Author Archives: Eric Rosenzweig

How To: Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste

Recycling is more than sorting out plastic bottles and composting leftovers. Proper disposal of household objects is of the utmost importance, never more so than with materials that pose a threat to the environment if relegated to a landfill. Here are just some of the common items that should be taken to special recycling outlets for safe disposal:

Household hazardous waste


Did you know that one ton of electronic scrap yields more gold than 17 tons of gold ore? That’s the good news. The bad news is that electronics contain metals that are potentially harmful to the environment, like mercury, lead, and cadmium. Many cities and towns organize special events or establish permanent centers for recycling electronic devices. And many retailers (e.g., Staples) operate recycling programs for such equipment through the mail.

Batteries contain harmful chemicals and heavy metals—lead and acid among them. Make sure to separate standard two-button batteries (9-volt, AA, AAA, D, etc.) from your regular trash and bring them to special recycling locations/kiosks. Office supply stores often have these on-site, as do municipal waste centers. Need to offload an old car battery? Try bringing it to your local service station; many garages will see to the recycling on your behalf.

Motor Oil
New oil is one thing, but used oil contains dirt and toxins collected during use. Many manufacturers actually recycle the used oil they collect, cleaning it and then blending it with new oil. If you change your own car oil, be sure to bring it to your local automotive garage and allow the professionals to properly dispose of it for you.

Household hazardous waste disposal

Illegal tire dump. Photo:

Tires are a big environmental issue. Because they are so bulky and do not decompose, they are not permitted in landfills. Tires also contain heavy metals that can leech out into the surrounding area over time. Some tire manufacturers will collect old tires and outfit them with new treads. Other companies are chipping them into new material for a variety of recycled products. If you’re not going to make a tire swing from your old used tires, bring them to a garage or deliver to a commercial outfit for reuse.

Old Paint
Because of its high chemical composition, paint should never be dumped. We covered paint disposal in our blog post: What to Do with Old Paint, but we forgot the number one important option! Find a local school and donate your old paint to the theater department! They’re almost guareenteed to need and want it (but it’s always nice to call ahead.)

To learn odds-and-ends about household items that can and should be recycled, visit 50 Things You Can Recycle at Squidoo.

For more on waste management and recycling, consider:

Learning to Love Recycling
Quick Tip: Recycle Building Materials
7 DIY Recycling Centers for Small Spaces

DIY Deals: Outdoor Lighting

Even though summer just started, many retailers have already put their outdoor and landscaping products on sale. With months of good weather to get your lawn and garden in top shape, here are some outdoor light fixtures that will certainly provide security, curb appeal, and atmosphere—all at discounted prices.

Outdoor Lighting

Mr Beams MB360 Wireless LED Spotlight with Motion Sensor and Photocell, $20.65 (17% off)

Outdoor motion sensor lights are a great outdoor lighting solution for you and the security of your home. The Mr Beams MB360 Wireless Spotlight with Motion Sensor is battery-powered and easy to install. Its LED bulbs mean longer life and fewer replacements. Just $20.64 (17% off) at

Progress Lighting P5533 Traditional / Classic 1 Light Outdoor Pendant from the BrassGuard Lanterns Collection, $62.85 (10% off)

Lighting your porch or entryway with a new fixture is a great way to add curb value and an inviting welcome for guests. The Progress Lighting P5533 Traditional/Classic 1 Light Outdoor Pendant can either hang from a chain (2 feet) or mount from a ceiling. Now $62.85 (10% off), with free shipping, from Lighting Direct.

Pottery Barn Case Sconce

A pair of Pottery Barn's Case Sconces are now on sale for just $359 (orig. $698)

The dome copper-like top of the Case Sconce from Pottery Barn was inspired by the lanterns in French markets. Made of iron with glass panels and suspended from a goose-neck wall mount, the fixture is hand-finished in antique copper and black. A pair of sconces are on sale for $359 (regularly $698) online at Pottery Barn.

Hampton Bay Outdoor Solar LED Walk Lights (6-Pack), $17.28 (30% off) at The Home Depot

Small path lights, like these Hampton Bay Outdoor Solar LED Walk Lights, are great for illuminating the yard, deck, or patio from dusk to night. Since they recharge in the sun and feature LED bulbs, they are also eco-friendly. Find them in a six-pack for just $17.28 (30% off) at The Home Depot.


The Tiffany Post Mount from Progress Lighting is now $86.40 (orig. $102.17) at Bob Vila Shop

Drawing its inspiration from the masters themselves, this Tiffany Post Mount Light from Progress Lighting is finished in a golden baroque with copper foil “Tiffany”-decorated glass panels. The fixture is designed to fit a 3″ post or pedestal mount (sold separately). You can find it for $86.40 (originally $102.17) at Bob Vila Shop.

Landscape Lighting 101
Smart New Choices for Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor Lighting: 12 Products to Light Your Way

DIY Deals: Outdoor Kids Play

It’s mid-summer and the sales on outdoor play sets for children are in full swing. Online and in stores you’ll have your pick of great summer deals on everything from kid-size picnic tables to family-size pools. But remember, these deals won’t last forever, so take advantage now!

Step2 All-Star Sports Climber, $89.99 at Toys 'R Us (reg. $99.99)

Shop Toys ‘R Us online this weekend for up to 30% off select outdoor toys, like this durable plastic play set for kids 2-4 years old. Colorful and compact, the Step2 All-Star Sports Climber combines soccer goal, slide, climbing ladder, and inflatable sports balls. (Free shipping is applied to orders over $75.)

Endless Adventures Easy Store Table, $74.99 (reg. $84.99)

It’s Christmas in July at Little Tikes through the end of this month, which means free shipping and discounts store-wide. Perfect for picnics and outdoor craft sessions, the Easy Store Table from Endless Adventures is weather-proof and low-maintenance, and it may be folded up for easy storage.

Magna 20" Bicycle, $49.49 - $54.00 (save 10%)

Magna bicycles are currently marked down 10% at Target as part of the retailer’s Deals on Wheels online promotion. At 20″ the Magna Bike is just right for boys and girls 8-12 years old.

Sportspower 12 ft. Trampoline, $219.99 (reg. $349.99)

Trampolines are fun for kids off all ages, and this 12′ flex steel model from Sportspower—available at Kmart—comes with an attached safety net to keep accidents at bay. Be forewarned, however, that with a trampoline, children from miles around will migrate to your house, so have the lemonade ready!

Intex Easy Set Round Pool Set, $85.99 (reg. $99.99)

Last but certainly not least, the inflatable above-ground pool is great summertime fun for the whole family (with this summer’s heat, it’s great even if you don’t have kids!) Easy to inflate for summer and just as easy to store during the winter months, the 12′ round, 30″ deep Intex Easy Set Round Pool is available on with free shipping.

How To: Make a Tire Swing
Project Guide: Building a Sandbox
Garden Fountains: 10 Water Features to Beautify Any Yard