Submitted by Cub Scout Pack 855
Reduce, reuse, recycle is a common mantra for environmentally minded people. Lewiston's Cub Scout Pack 855 recently learned it will conserve resources, protect the environment and save money if Scouts can make the mantra a habit.
Reducing consumption of resources is easy if you practice a little diligence - like maintaining shopping lists so you can stop at a few stores in one outing, instead of making several smaller trips. This habit conserves gas and saves money.
Reusing old items requires creativity and is useful on a case-by-case basis. For example, an old garden hose can be repurposed into a soaker hose. Some people naturally have an eye for repurposing. If you don't, then ask friends for ideas or spend a few minutes on Google. Recycling is obvious for materials that display the recycle logo, but occasionally, we find ourselves holding an old ink cartridge or car tire and wondering, "Can this be recycled?"
Recycling electronic products is important. The American Chemical Society states cell phones contain more than 70 elements. That's more than 70 percent of the natural periodic table. Some of these chemicals, like mercury, lead and cadmium, are toxic and would be released into the environment if the products were buried in a landfill. Since Jan. 1, 2015, consumer electronics have been banned from landfills and incinerators. The state DEC lists the banned products as well as two options for properly disposing of them. The first is to take advantage of manufacturers' take-back programs, and the second is to port those products to local e-waste collection sites.
Details on both options can be found on the DEC website.
The Scouts contacted local electronics retailers to learn which products they accept for disposal. The four major cellular providers - AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon - have shops in Niagara Falls that accept cellular phones and tablets for recycling. Other common consumer electronics are accepted at nearby retailers.
Lewiston E-Fix accepts smaller computer equipment and phones, but not televisions. Office Max accepts toner and ink cartridges. Best Buy accepts many electronic items and will even pick them up from your home, but many items require a qualifying purchase or surcharge. They charge $25 per TV, but many other items, such as batteries, ink cartridges, computers and printers, are accepted at no charge. Please check their website or call the store for details.
The Town of Lewiston Highway Department occasionally holds a one-day, no-cost recycling event for consumer electronics like televisions. Advanced notice of the event is usually posted in The Lewiston-Porter Sentinel. The Niagara Falls Department of Public Works accepts many consumer electronics for drop-off, including TVs, but this service is only available to Niagara Falls residents.
If you can't wait for a drop-off event, then you can take your electronics to Advanced Technology Recycling. It accepts most consumer electronics for recycling, including cables, printers, VCRs, surge strips, telephones and televisions, which are accepted with no charge. A complete list can be found on their website.
Automotive parts are another class of waste that need to be properly disposed. Disposal of lead acid batteries, motor oil and car tires are governed by the state DEC. Details can be found on the NYS DEC website. The Scouts contacted local automotive retailers to learn which materials they accept.
Advance Auto Parts collects used motor oil in a container so a contracted company can take it for recycling. Customers can bring up to five gallons of oil per week. Advance Auto Parts also accepts car batteries, which will be disassembled, so the plastic and lead can be melted down to use in new batteries. Even the acid can be neutralized and used in glass and textile manufacturing.
Customers pay a core charge when buying a new battery. This money is refunded when you bring the used battery back for recycling, or it can be used toward the purchase of a new battery or a store credit.
Advance Auto Parts also accepts mufflers, starters, calipers and alternators for recycling. NAPA Auto Parts accepts used motor oil and automotive-type batteries. Wal-Mart's automotive department accepts used motor oil, power steering fluids and transmission fluids. It also accepts automotive-type batteries and all types of tires. Sam's Club accepts automotive-type batteries. Coppin's Service Center accepts used motor oil at no charge. And Dunn Tires accepts used tires for recycling at $2 per tire.
Disposal of some household products like oil-based paints, pool supplies, batteries and compact fluorescent bulbs must also conform to NYS DEC regulations. Periodically, communities will hold collection events, but if you have an immediate need to dispose of some items, here are local retailers that the Scouts contacted and the products they accept: Valu Home Center accepts fluorescent bulbs and rechargeable batteries; Gui's Lumber accepts rechargeable batteries; and Home Depot (750 Builders Way, 236-0761) accepts compact fluorescent bulbs and rechargeable batteries.
Expired medications also pose environmental risks when sent to landfill or flushed down the drain. According to the NYS DEC website, a nationwide study performed in 1999 by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) found low levels of drugs such as antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives and steroids in 80 percent of the rivers and streams tested. Subsequent studies showed this problem is growing and highlighted consequences, such as effects on the life cycles of aquatic wildlife and the potential for enabling antibiotic-resistant microbes.
The Scouts confirmed unwanted or unused medications can be dropped off at the Town of Lewiston Police Department during normal office hours. Note: Liquids must be placed in double Ziploc bags, and no needles are accepted at any time. Mount St. Mary's Hospital also accepts unwanted medication, including needles, but only during biannual drug take-back events. These events are coordinated with the state DEA and advertised in local papers.
Please support Lewiston Cub Scout Pack 855 in the effort to reduce, reuse and recycle in order to care for our environment and to build a better world for the next generation.
•The retailers mentioned in the article are not an all-inclusive list. They are nearby businesses the Cub Scouts contacted. Reference the list on Modern's website:
•Details on options for electronics recycling can be found on the DEC website.
•Addresses and phone numbers for local cellular retailers:
- AT&T (8292 Niagara Falls Blvd., 716-283-2631)
- Sprint (1593 Military Road, 716-402-4505)
- T-Mobile (1550 Military Road, Suite 300, 716-402-1841)
- Verizon (1596 Military Road, LaSalle Center, 716-298-1888)
•Addresses for local consumer electronics retailers:
- Lewiston E-fix (155 Portage Road, Lewiston, 716-754-4384)
- Office Max (8329 Niagara Falls Blvd., Niagara Falls, 716-283-0180)
- Best Buy (585 Niagara Falls Blvd., Buffalo, 716-837-9080)
- Advanced Technology Recycling (200 Fire Tower Drive, Tonawanda, 716-693-7779)
•A reference for the law regarding disposal of oil, car batteries:
•NYS DEC website and the law for disposing lead acid batteries:
•Addresses for local automotive parts retailers
- Advance Auto Parts (2701 Military Road, Niagara Falls, 716-297-0426)
- NAPA Auto Parts (2450 Military Road, Niagara Falls, 716-297-9000)
- Wal-Mart's automotive department (1540 Military Road, Niagara Falls, 716-298-4484)
- Sam's Club (1580 Military Road, Niagara Falls, 716-298-1580)
- Coppin's Service Center (550 Center St., Lewiston, 716-754-7020)
- Dunn Tires (7616 Niagara Falls Blvd., Niagara Falls, 716-297-5976)
•Reference to law regulating household waste, primarily light bulbs and batteries.
•Addresses for local household goods retailers
- Valu Home Center (6001 Porter Road, 716-297-1900)
- Gui's Lumber (8940 Porter Road, 716-297-2000)
- Home Depot (750 Builders Way, 236-0761)
•Reference to study: Drugs in New York's Waters
•Unwanted or unused medications
- Town of Lewiston Police Department (4059 Creek Road, Youngstown, 716-754-8477)
- Mount St. Mary's Hospital (5300 Military Road, Lewiston)