Ask Eartha: Knowing which items shouldn’t be tossed in the trash is important |

Ask Eartha: Knowing which items shouldn’t be tossed in the trash is important

Lisa Hueneke
Ask Eartha
Volunteers prepare items to be recycled. Summit County is hosting its annual event where residents and property owners can dispose of “special-waste” items like electronics, household hazardous waste, textiles and pharmaceuticals.
Photo from Summit County

Dear Eartha, I was surprised to learn I could recycle my mattresses for free in Summit County. What other hard-to-recycle items around my home should I know about?

It may be surprising to find out there are quite a few items around your home that shouldn’t be tossed into the trash. Some items can be recycled, and others need to be disposed of properly. We often accumulate unused stuff without even realizing it — leftover paint from a renovation project, items we swore we’d fix or a junk drawer of mystery cords and dated electronics. When we get the bug to clean out our spaces, it’s important that we do so safely and with the environment in mind. Otherwise, we risk harming our rivers and natural spaces.


What to do with those outdated gadgets collecting dust? Televisions, computers, printers and cell phones along with their cords, keyboards and batteries are classified as electronic waste or e-waste. These items should not be put in the trash. Their components can release harmful toxins as they breakdown. In fact, it’s illegal to put electronics in the trash for this very reason. Properly recycle old electronics by bringing them to the Summit County Resource Allocation Park, 639 Landfill Road, our landfill and recycling center near Keystone.

Paints, Aerosols, and Motor Oil

Home projects often generate items that also should not go in the trash. Paints, thinners, aerosols, fertilizers and motor oil are considered household hazardous waste. As with e-waste, these household hazardous waste items should be taken the Summit County Resource Allocation Park.

From the Summit County Resource Allocation Park these materials make the journey to be properly disposed of or repurposed. Paints, for example, go to a company in Denver called Green Sheen who reprocesses the old stuff into a new paint product. Even the tin cans the paints come in get recycled. When it comes to thinners and chemicals, some of these materials get combined to create a usable fuel.

Keep these materials out of your trash and don’t leave them at drop-off recycling sites as they are potentially combustible or contain toxins that could leak into the air or ground. It’s important for the safety and health of our community to bring these items to the Summit County Resource Allocation Park for proper care.


Let’s dig out that medication from 2008. Expired and unwanted medications shouldn’t linger nor be flushed down the toilet. If flushed, they could find their way into our lakes, rivers or water systems. Instead, take your unwanted medications to one of the three prescription take-back program drop-off locations around the county. Locations and more information on this take-back program can be found on the High Country Conservation Center’s website.

Recycling Search Tool

Still have an item you’re not sure what to do with? Check out the Recycling Search Tool available on High Country Conservation Center’s local recycling resource page. This tool allows you to enter the item you are looking to recycle and find how to dispose of it in Summit County. The search tool is also available in Spanish. And remember, High Country Conservation Center’s staff answers recycling questions Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 970-668-5703.

Free Annual Recycling Event this Saturday

The High Country Conservation Center and Summit County Government is making it easy to recycle many of these items with the Annual Recycling Event on Saturday, May 21. Bring your unwanted paints, aerosols, electronics, clothing, and medications to the Summit Stage Bus Barn in Frisco from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event is for residents only. Commercial loads and motor oil are not accepted at the event and should be taken to the Summit County Resource Allocation Park for drop-off. Please review the list of accepted items on High Country Conservation Center’s event page before you go.

The Annual Recycling Event coincides with Town Clean-Up Day also happening on Saturday, May 21. Information on the clean-up happening in your town can be accessed from the Annual Recycling Event page as well.

This free recycling event happens once a year, but Summit County residents can bring electronic waste and household hazardous waste items for free year-round to the Summit County Resource Allocation Park. Drop-off is available Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon.

Cleaning out the closets and corners of our homes feels good. Let’s extend that good feeling by being mindful about how we do it.


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