5 sustainable ways to clean up trash, debris after a natural disaster
By Ashley Williams, AccuWeather staff writer
After a major storm or natural disaster sweeps through an area, potentially damaging your home and littering your yard with debris, there are ways to ensure that the cleanup process is environmentally friendly.
In contrast to simply throwing the waste in a dumpster to be hauled off to a landfill, it’s important to understand that the process of discarding waste in a sustainable manner will take some time and effort, said Matthew Hollis, president of Elytus.
The software technology and consulting firm helps businesses plan out sustainable waste strategies.
“The best thing you can do is start to work through the waste that you have in your house and categorize it accordingly,” Hollis said.
To help the process go smoothly, consider sorting out your potential waste in categories including food, appliances, clothing, yard debris and furniture.
The next step is to figure out the best way to handle recovering or discarding damaged items.
An easy place to start is with spoiled food in your refrigerator, which is likely if there’s an extended power outage.
“You’re going to have food in your fridge that went bad, so that’s organic waste,” Hollis said. “That can be composted and it doesn’t necessarily have to go to the landfill.”
Any clothing that may have been ruined by the storm can be recycled, said Hollis. He recommended airing out clothing by hanging them rather than using a dryer.
“Start talking with organizations like the Goodwill or the Salvation Army,” he said. “A lot of those organizations will take clothes that are damaged and sell it in textiles.”
Those textiles can then be shredded and turned into things like insulation, rags or carpet.
A non-functioning household appliance can be used in other ways, including being recycled for parts.
“Maybe there are certain parts of the appliance that can still be used and can help others; [for instance,] they can take three broken stoves and combine it into one that works,” Hollis said.
If the appliance is unable to be recycled for parts, examining the item and determining if there are any recyclable precious metals is also an option.
If a storm has ravaged your home, it’s possible that your furniture may have been damaged by floodwaters or debris. Figuring out what is salvageable is a good starting point, said Hollis.
“The best thing you can do is dry it out as best as you can,” Hollis said. “If it’s a metal table and you dried it out and it looks to be intact and un-rusted, then it’s fine.”
How to avoid dangers of downed power lines amid extreme weather
5 expert tips for protecting your home against hurricane damage
Expert tips for preventing mold growth or remediating mold in your home after a flood
Hollis said that while glass can typically withstand the impact of water, furniture made of fabrics or wood may have to be recycled or de-constructed for re-purposing.
Separating storm debris outside of your home is essential to helping the environment and preventing rodent infestations, said Laura Simis, an inbound specialist at Evergreen Lawn and Pest in Orlando, Florida.
“Dry piles can be a fire hazard and moist piles smell like decomposition,” Simis said. “They can also be hazardous if debris spills or blows into traffic.”
Simis recommended organizing storm debris according to the type of material.
“Yard waste, [including] trees, branches, leaves, torn-up landscaping and shrubs, has to be separated out from construction materials [like] roof shingles, broken glass and drywall,” she said.
After considering these categories, you can sort out the typical items that you’d normally recycle, including glass, plastic and cardboard, said Hollis.
Hard-to-recycle items, like Styrofoam, will likely be items that you’d discard in the trash, he said.
For more safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
More Weather News
Weather News - June 26, 2019, 2:01:16 PM EDT
Things don't look that terrifying right now - but that all changed quickly. Keep your eye on the upper right portion of this video as all hell breaks loose.
Weather News - June 26, 2019, 12:47:55 PM EDT
A tropical depression, named Dodong in the Philippines, will bring the potential for flooding and other impacts to Japan through Friday.
Weather News - June 26, 2019, 5:48:58 PM EDT
Officials in France worry the hot spell this week could rival the deadly heat wave of 2003, which was blamed for thousands of fatalities.
While direct strikes can be fatal, different types of lightning strikes can kill, including less expected ways like a side flash or a streamer.
Weather News - June 26, 2019, 8:17:05 AM EDT
Following weeks of downpours, dry and warm weather will arrive just in time for Glastonbury 2019.
Monsoon brings long-awaited relief to some, millions still parched as rain fails to reach Delhi, northwestern India
Weather News - June 26, 2019, 9:09:59 AM EDT
The Southwest monsoon made significant progress across India in recent days; however, a change in the weather pattern means millions of people will have to wait several weeks for the monsoon to arrive.
Weather News - June 26, 2019, 2:47:36 PM EDT
After generally dry and comfortable weather graced residents in the Pacific Northwest over the past few days, a slow-moving storm system will bring about a change in the weather pattern through the rest of the week.