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A properly maintained vehicle is an important step in watershed stewardship. A well tuned car burns less fuel, releases fewer pollutants, and according to an ASE-Certified Master Technicians Survey, can keep your car running up to 50 percent longer.
You can help!
If you see spots on the driveway or in the garage, the engine, transmission or radiator may be leaking. Having these leaks repaired immediately is important in preventing these fluids from being washed into the watershed with the next rainstorm. Clean up the spots with either kitty litter or another absorbent, non-toxic material. Do not rinse it off or scrub it with a detergent-based cleaner. The absorbed material should be swept up and placed in a sealed bag for disposal. Check with your local trash collectors for the ideal methods of disposal.
Recycle oil and antifreeze
Motor oil is composed of many organic chemicals and becomes contaminated with heavy metals and chemicals as it is used. Improperly disposed of oils can smother aquatic animals and lead to disease and infection. As petroleum products break down over time, toxic substances are released and further expose plants and animals to these life-threatening compounds. One pint of spilled oil can produce a one-acre oil slick! When you replace your oil, consider requesting re-refined products. These are an effective way to reduce the need for new oil sources.
If you change your oil yourself be sure to properly dispose of used motor oil and take extra care while changing it not to allow any to drip onto the driveway or surfaces on which you are working. Here in Whatcom County (except Point Roberts) you can place up to one gallon of used motor oil in a sealable, screw-cap container and place it with your other curb-side recyclables. Additionally, many auto shops in town will recycle it for you, some at no charge.
Never pour used antifreeze down any drain (home or storm). It contains pollutants that are toxic and can disrupt proper operation of sewers and septic tanks. It is also poisonous even in very small quantities. It's sweet taste is very attractive to animals and children and drinking only three ounces can kill an adult, so less will kill animals or kids.
In Whatcom County, antifreeze can be recycled at several locations. It must be sealed in a well-marked unbreakable container with a screw top, such as the empty container from the new antifreeze you just used.
Recycle used batteries
It is unlawful to dispose of a used battery in the trash. Either return it to the location where you purchased it or recycle it with your other curbside recyclables. Call the Whatcom County Recycling Hotline at 360-676-5723 for additional locations.
Be sure to use caution when handling a battery. For the same reason we don't want battery acid in our water supply, you don't want it on your skin or in your eyes. Place it in a leak-proof container before recycling and wear goggles and gloves.