Earth Friendly: Check before discarding your garbage

By Kate Garcia
July 19, 2013 at 2:19 a.m.

There's a first time for everything - or so the old saying goes.

Perspective is a funny thing. Not everyone sees the same thing or even thinks of everything that can go wrong or right. We can learn a great deal about perspective from the case of the two sanitation workers for the city of Marietta in Georgia.

As reported by journalist Rachel Miller of The Marietta Daily Journal, two sanitation workers set out on what would seem like another average day at work. William Smith, who was only with the city of Marietta sanitation department for a month, sustained major injuries to his eyes while his co-worker, 13-year veteran Marvin Markham, sustained only minor injuries, treatable at the scene of the accident.

Neither man knew what the day had in store until the huge metal compactor door on the garbage truck struck the two oxygen tanks that had been discarded by a deceased woman's relatives who were cleaning out her house.

Contents within the truck instantly became shrapnel; some of which flew as far as 50 yards from the truck.

The garbage men had no clue about the contents of the garbage can, and I'd be willing to bet the residents weren't aware the oxygen tanks needed to be disposed of in a special manner.

I will be the first to admit it; if I had a relative who required instruments involved in special care and I were responsible for clearing out the house, I wouldn't know what to do with more than half the items I would find.

If you find yourself in an instance like that, there are services provided by the city of Victoria that can help with discarding special materials similar to what the two city of Marietta workers faced that day.

Thankfully, the city has contracted out services from Waste Management to help dispose of materials that can prove extremely dangerous if not handled appropriately.

The At Your Door household hazardous waste collection service helps keep not only our environment safe, but also, most importantly, our city sanitation employees. The At Your Door service is available to all residents within the city limits and can be contacted at 1-800-449-7587.

If you happen to be faced with materials you are unsure of how to discard, simply give our offices a call at 361-485-3230. We can guide you through finding a facility that may accept materials you are unsure of how to dispose.

Most containers such as highly pressurized tanks, canister's containing chemicals and aerosol containers have instructions on how to safely dispose the item after you are through with it. If there are no markings or instructions regarding proper disposal, please give either us or the At Your Door hotline a call.

Help us learn from our neighbors in Marietta, Ga., and keep this type of thing from happening in Victoria. What might seem OK to throw into the regular garbage may create an unsafe situation for someone else.

Kate Garcia is the programs coordinator for the city of Victoria, Environmental Services.



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