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The Becker County Household Hazardous Waste facility disposed of over 37 tons of hazardous household products last year — products that otherwise could have ended up in a landfill or flushed in the sink to contaminate the local water supply. DL NEWSPAPERS/Vicki Gerdes

Product exchange

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Are you in need of a little paint or wood stain to finish off a bathroom or a new piece of homemade furniture?

Do you have a can of paint, stain or varnish left over from a home decorating project? Or maybe some old herbicide sitting around your garage?

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It may be time for a visit to the Becker County Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facility, located adjacent to the solid waste transfer station off County Road 144 north of Detroit Lakes.

Open every Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., April through October, the HHW building offers area residents a free product exchange.

Bring in your leftover paints, stains, varnishes, solvents, garden pesticides and lawn care products, cleaners and aerosol cans, and the HHW will dispose of them free of charge.

If there is enough usable product left in them to be considered salvageable, they will be placed in the product exchange area — where you can pick up as much or as little of these items as you need, also free of charge.

“We serve Becker, Mahnoman, Hubbard, Norman and Clay counties,” says Sandy Gunderson, who coordinates the regional HHW program as well as the county recycling and waste education programs.

Anyone from these counties can bring in their household cleaners, paints, varnishes and other hazardous wastes from around the house —items that should not be thrown away with the rest of the household trash, warns Gunderson.

“If people throw them away, the chemicals could get into our water system,” she explained — which would be a decidedly toxic combination.

On the other hand, if they bring their waste items into the HHW facility, someone else might find a use for them, Gunderson noted.

There is no limit to the amount of products that people can take home, she added.

“All we ask is that you take what you can use up in the next few months — if you can’t, then share them with a friend, or bring them back here.”

While the HHW facility is only open to the public one day a week, people who have products to bring in can also drop them off at the county’s solid waste transfer station during regular business hours, six days a week.

“We’re going to build new offices this year,” she said. “They will include a re-use room that will be open six days a week.”

Though the paint and stain products that people bring in to the HHW facility are not usually in large quantities, there can sometimes be enough to finish up a room or paint some cabinets — especially if they are mixed together.

“Last year we gave out more than 21.5 tons of products we had on hand here for re-use,” Gunderson said.

But if you are keeping leftover paints and stains to bring them into the exchange, they should be stored properly, she cautioned. For instance, latex paint that has been left to freeze in a garage or shed over the winter will no longer be usable.

“Latex paint is water based,” Gunderson said.

When it freezes, the product becomes cottage cheese-like, and cannot be salvaged.

In addition, household cleaners and pesticides should be stored in locked cabinets or high on closet shelves — “out of little hands,” Gunderson said.

For more information, please call the Household Hazardous Waste facility at 218-847-9664.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

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Vicki Gerdes
Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 14 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as obituaries. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.
(218) 844-1454
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