Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Green Living Donation and Disposal Checklist

By Wong Ee Lynn
The Green Living Special Interest Group often receives inquiries on how to recycle, donate or dispose of particularly troublesome items. Seeing as that most people would be carrying out spring cleaning in the first quarter of the year, we have compiled a list of organisations and disposal methods for particular items. As this list is not an exhaustive one and is mostly relevant to those living in the Klang Valley, we welcome all your suggestions and recommendations at gl.mnselangor@yahoo.com

1. Dry cell batteries and used light bulbs: Ikea (at No.2 Jalan PJU 7/2, Mutiara Damansara, 47800 Petaling Jaya) provides bins for the collection of used batteries and lightbulbs for recycling and safe disposal at the Lower Ground Floor, right outside the checkout counters, to the left of the wrapping counter.
2. Leftover paint: There is no reason why you cannot store leftover pain for reuse in touch-up paint jobs. If the quantity is large, you can call up the nearest schools and community centres to ask if they need the paint for school/community beautification projects. If the quantity of leftover paint is small, you can save them for touch-up jobs or to paint repaired and refurbished furniture and wooden pallets and crates. If the paint has dried up, check with Alam Flora or your local waste collection facility to see if you can send the cans for recycling or put them out for collection with your usual rubbish. Seal the paint cans securely with their lids to prevent small animals or birds from getting trapped inside the cans.
3. Old mattresses: This is a tricky item to deal with. What is the reason you are throwing out an old mattress? If it is damp, torn, stained or damaged, then it belongs in a landfill. Tie it up with string and put it out for collection with your usual rubbish. If it is usable and clean, put it out in the sun for a few days to get rid of moisture and odors. Check with organisations such as Reach Out Malaysia (Email: stand.o.fish@gmail.com) to see if there are street folks who could use a mattress. Be prepared to deliver the mattress yourself, as most non-profit organisations are volunteer-run and lacking in manpower and resources.

4. Old clothes, household items and knick-knacks: There are several organisations that collect such items for reuse, recycling and redistribution to the needy. Lovely Nursing Centre for the disabled has a charity shop in a shophouse in SS26/6, Taman Mayang Jaya, Petaling Jaya, which collects household items, books and decorative items for resale. Pertubuhan Amal Sri Sinar (http://recyclecharity.org/en/) has orange-coloured donation bins with hutches in various locations in the Klang Valley, and also has mobile collection services every weekend from 8.00 a.m. - 1.00 p.m. in Taman Megah PJ, Puchong and other locations. The Buddhist Tzu-Chi Merit Society has a large donation bin in Centrepoint, Bandar Utama. Clothes for men can be donated to Reach Out Malaysia for their street clients, which consist mostly of men.
What NOT to give: Please dispose of all broken and damaged items. Clothes that are too stained, dirty, or torn should not be donated but should be used as rags. You can also donate torn and stained clothes to the nearest animal shelter for use as animal bedding, or give them to your mechanic to use as garage rags.
5. Airtight lidded plastic jars and coffee mugs: You know those transparent plastic containers with screw-on red plastic lids that your festive cookies come in? Please wash and dry them and save them, along with coffee mugs, for our indigenous friends to use in their kitchens. Gerai OA, a non-profit fairtrade organisation, will collect them from you at their stall/booth during events. To find out their schedule of events, go to: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.96049827366.86091.29058727366&type=3#!/geraioa?fref=ts. Note: Please ensure that the jars have not been used to hold non-food items such as soap or household chemicals to avoid contamination and poisoning.
6. Infants' and children's toys: Please clean and dry your unwanted toys for donation to a local non-profit organisation, Need To Feed The Need (NFN) (Email: nfn.official@gmail.com) for distribution to needy children living in Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur. Please ensure that toys are not broken, damaged or dirty. Toys must be in good working condition and should not be too bulky or heavy as the children and their mothers often have to walk some distance to collect food and other donations.
7. Old cell phones and cell phone batteries: Nokia Malaysia accepts all old phones for recycling. You can drop off your old phones in the box at the Nokia office in Amcorp Mall, from 9.00-6.00 pm on weekdays. The address is Suite W-10-21, 10th Floor Melawangi Business Suites, Amcorp. Contact number: 03-79572211. (Thank you to Gan Li-Kim for the recce work!)
8. Old magazines: Old but not outdated or torn magazines can be donated to your usual clinic, hair salon, barber shop, or mechanic for their waiting area. Please do not give catalogues, junk mail or TV channel guides. These items belong in the recycling bin.
9. Old books: Children's books can be given to local non-profit organisations such as Kawan-Kawan Mari Kita Membaca (Email: info@marikitamembaca /rusaslina.idrus@gmail.com) or The Revolving Library (https://www.facebook.com/therevolvinglibrary/info) for their education and literacy programmes for underprivileged children. Books for adults can be donated to the Lions Club of Petaling Jaya via their donation bin in Naga's Restaurant, Brickfields, or donated to Green Living (Email: gl.mnselangor@yahoo.com) for fundraising purposes.
10. Electronic and electrical appliances: There are currently no known electronic waste collectors in Malaysia that are certified by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment. Most backyard e-waste collectors will just strip electronic devices of metals that can be recovered for recycling, and then the other components will end up in the landfill. Consider whether you can try to repair and reuse the particular device. Google the address of the local office of your electrical appliance's manufacturer and find out if they have "producer take-back" measures in Malaysia. Most computer manufacturers will accept old PCs, notebooks, batteries and other devices for recycling. In the case of electrical or battery-operated devices with simple components such as alarm clocks, table lamps and blenders, if they are beyond repair, you could try to take them apart entirely and separate the components into plastic, metal and glass for recycling.
11. Old furniture: Old but usable furniture made of real wood, bamboo or metal can be cleaned up and donated to charity. Organisations such as Pertubuhan Amal Sri Sinar (Contact: 03 4297 7022) will come to your home to pick up bulky items such as sofa sets, bicycles and refrigerators, but please do your part by ensuring that the items you wish to donate are clean and in good working condition. Furniture made of plywood, fibreboard and medium-density fibreboard (MDF) should not be donated as they usually have been treated with formaldehyde, and over time formaldehyde can leach out and cause poisoning and contamination. This is especially so when the said items of furniture have been exposed to heat and moisture. They should instead be taken apart and tied or bagged up for collection with usual rubbish. Hopefully, in future there will be better, safer ways of recycling or disposing of MDF, plywood and fibreboard products, and they will be manufactured using safer methods and chemicals.

12. Expired medicine: Expired medicine should not be disposed of in landfills or down water treatment systems, but should be dropped off in the collection boxes at government hospitals, (e.g. Hospital Kuala Lumpur) for safe disposal. (Source: http://www.pharmacy.gov.my/v2/en/content/return-your-medicines-program.html)