Texans are known for their green thumbs. Whether they cultivate roses or grow tomatoes, squash and other vegetables in a patch out back, Lone Star State gardeners are busy growing something year round.

Many of those homegrown horticulturalists rely on pesticides to help keep unwanted critters from munching on their tender plants. But what do they do when those potentially hazardous chemicals are no longer needed?

Many people do not realize that many commonly used household products, such as garden pesticides, are a hazardous waste product. Pouring them down the drain, flushing them or allowing them to drain into our lakes and streams through storm sewers is not only harmful to the environment; it contaminates your drinking water. In many cases, improper disposal of hazardous waste is illegal.

Fortunately, the State of Texas is offering a chance this fall for people from home gardeners to larger-scale agricultural producers to dispose of these unwanted chemicals in an environmentally friendly way – for free.

Three collection events are scheduled in October at sites across the Brazos River basin. On Thursday, October 7 there will be a collection at the Needville Youth Fairgrounds in Fort Bend County. Additional events are scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 12 at the Farmers Co-op Gin in Jones County and Thursday, October 14 at the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse Grounds in Parker County.

A wide variety of waste products will be accepted, including:

  • Rinsed, empty pesticide containers
  • Insecticides
  • Fungicides
  • Rodenticides
  • Nematicides
  • Bactericides
  • Growth regulators
  • Harvest aid chemicals
  • Pesticides used on livestock
  • Other miscellaneous pesticides
  • All formulations of herbicides
  • Unknown substances (please label the container "unknown")
  • Used motor oil and oil filters and other petroleum products
  • Paint
  • Batteries
  • Fluorescent bulbs
  • Antifreeze

Items not accepted include:

  • Waste from chemical distributors, dealers or manufacturers
  • Unrinsed or improperly rinsed empty pesticide containers
  • Waste from franchise pesticide applicators certified by the Texas Structural Pest Control Service
  • Fertilizers or nutrient materials that are neither hazardous nor contain pesticide admixtures
  • Waste from commercial generators
  • Compressed-gas cylinders (larger than 20 gallons)
  • Explosive materials
  • Out-of-state waste

For more details about these and other collection events, sponsored by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, click here or call (512) 239-3143.