I have a friend who pours used motor oil down the street storm drain.

He tells me that’s how he has always done it and it does not really hurt anything. I have explained how it all works. Whatever someone pours down storm drains sooner or later will end up in the Missouri River. That is why Scout groups, school kids and others stencil the fish with the saying, “This leads directly to the river.” So many people do not get this.

Lucky for us, local municipalities are now helping citizens get rid of chemicals and other hazardous materials that have accumulated around their house. They have chosen April as their annual household hazardous waste collection month.

Two are coming up this month:

• The city of Independence event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday on the block bounded by Liberty, Walnut, Osage and Kansas just off the Square. It’s free to residents with a proof of residency (drivers license or city utility bill). Items taken include cleaners (lye, drain, toilet and tub, oven, etc.), paint and paint products (aerosol cans, varnish, stripper, thinner, turpentine, etc.), fluorescent light bulbs; rat poison; pesticides and herbicides; automotive fluids (antifreeze, motor oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid.); all battery types; kerosene; mercury thermometers; unused or outdated medicines; and household fluids labeled flammable, toxic, corrosive or reactive. Bring items in original containers if possible. For more information, call the Water Pollution Control Department at 816-325-7711.

• 8 a.m. to noon April 19 at Pink Hill Park for residents of Blue Springs, Grain Valley and unincorporated Jackson County. It’s free. The park is at 2715 N.W. Park Drive, just west of Missouri 7, in Blue Springs. This event is first come, first served for 420 vehicles, and items taken are only antifreeze, batteries, oil and paint.

Also, Missouri residents also can take household hazardous wastes to drop-off facilities. Call 816-513-8400 or 816-969-1805 for more information.

All homes use cleaning and painting products, yard and garden pesticides/herbicides, and automotive fluids, batteries, etc., but a lot of people just do not pay attention to the print on the container that these items need special disposal. Most homes do not dispose of hazardous waste containers properly.

Independence officials state, “Chemical-based household products from a single home may seem insignificant, but when millions of homes use similar products, the combined effect becomes a major problem if they are handled, stored or disposed of improperly. The health and safety of people and animals, as well as the environment, is endangered when this type of product is discarded in the trash, poured down sinks or in storm drains.”

Start looking under your sinks and in the laundry room, storage area, shed and garage for all of those chemicals that are old, outdated, or you don’t use any longer. This is the time to clean out in a safe, GREEN way! No more dumping down the drain ~ It will end up in our water!

Lynn Youngblood is the executive director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City. Reach her at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net.