With the snow finally all gone and the warm weather upon us, it's time to think about spring cleaning

For some people that means washing the windows, sweeping the cobwebs off the ceiling and cleaning up the dust and grime behind the refrigerator. It's also a time to go through utility rooms and garages and get rid of old cleaning and gardening products. But before you toss those items into your regular trash you need to look at the labels to see if any of them are made with hazardous materials.

Improper disposal of this waste can contaminate lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater; pollute the air with dangerous fumes; or put sanitation and landfill workers at risk for serious injury. Fortunately, the Windham Solid Waste Management District is providing a safe and free way of disposing household hazardous waste.

Residents within the District are encouraged to visit one of the following Household Hazardous Waste collection events on Saturday, May 17, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Guilford Central School, Newfane Town Office, Twin Valley High School in Wilmington, and Westminster Center School.

Household Hazardous Waste is the unused or leftover portion of household products containing toxic chemicals and can be identified by labels such as: "Warning," "Caution," "Poisonous," "Toxic," "Flammable," "Corrosive," "Reactive," or "Explosive."

Household-generated products from WSWMD residents that will be accepted include: roofing tar, varnishes, paint strippers/thinners, latex and oil paints/stains, antifreeze, motor oil, brake fluid, gasoline, car wax, transmission fluid, driveway sealer, pool chemicals, chemical fertilizers, weed killers, pesticides, insecticides, spot removers, bleach, polishes, drain/toilet cleaners, chemistry sets, flea control products and mothballs.

Unacceptable items include explosives, ammunition, fireworks, radioactive waste, electronic waste, medical waste, empty containers, fluorescent bulbs and latex paint.

The collections are open to all residents of the WSWMD and they can utilize any of the collection sites. Businesses, schools and institutions that generate less than 220 pounds of hazardous waste per month can take part in the fall collection event in November for a fee.

The District services 37,451 residents in 19 member communities (Brattleboro, Brookline, Dover, Dummerston, Guilford, Halifax, Jamaica, Marlboro, Newfane, Putney, Readsboro, Stratton, Townshend, Vernon, Wardsboro, Westminster, Whitingham, Wilmington and Winhall).

Each year the District collects about 35,000 pounds of hazardous waste. That's just in one year, in one county in one of the smallest states in the union. If everybody across the country does their part every year that figure increases exponentially. So do your part to help keep these poisons out of the water we drink and the air we breathe.

For more information about Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day, visit www.windhamsolidwaste.org or call 802-257-0272.