The opportunity comes but once a year to the Rogue Valley. It's kinda like Christmas in reverse. Usually each year in early May, our community has a chance to safely discard hazardous materials. Is it possible that you have been stockpiling cleaners under the sink that are not going to be used ? Or, is there a stash in an outside shed or garage with leftover pesticides, insecticides, thinners or solvents? How about old kerosene or gas?

Residential customers may transport these items to the annual hazardous waste collection day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 6, at 8001 Table Rock Road in White City. A business must first make an appointment for the business collection day on Friday, May 5. Call Rogue Disposal at 779-4161 for more information. This event is sponsored by the three waste haulers in Jackson County. If you have additional questions, contact them for more details.

You might have spent Saturday, May 6, bettering yourself in a workshop or retreat if you had not amassed the poisonous stuff. Instead you can spend part of the day going for a hike or gardening and the other part driving to White City. Consider offering to take your neighbors box of stuff and make it doubly worthwhile. It won't take up the whole day. Since there are so many alternatives on the market these days, maybe next year you won't have a pile to discard.

The FREE re-use table at the event is a bonus if you are craving slug bait, pool chemicals and that sort of thing.

Ideally, when toxic chemicals enter our homes, it is best to use them all up, carefully. Buying only what you will use or sharing the excess with a friend that wants it is preferable. The very best choice when possible is avoidance by choosing a non-toxic alternative to get the job done. Once you have accumulated hazardous materials, proper disposal is paramount. Putting this "stuff" in your trash risks personal safety, family, animals and our neighborhood trash collector. Following the trail "downstream" can impact soil, waterways and air quality.

There are five dangerous choices to be avoided when disposing of hazardous materials: 1. Down the drain; 2. Down the toilet; 3. Buried on your property; 4. Illegal dumping; or 5. Placed in the trash.

Each of these choices threaten water quality because sooner or later it ends up at the waste water treatment plant. Landfill effluent (liquids) are collected on site and piped to the waste water treatment plant. They may or may not be able to filter out all the poisons and, once the treatment plant processes it, it will be released to flow downstream in creeks that become rivers and then into the Pacific Ocean. Illegal dumping risks the ground, plants, trees, animals, humans and creeks nearby.

You may be wondering why Jackson County offers this important service one time each year. About a decade ago, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) approached Jackson County Commissioners about the possibility of a grant to help build a permanent facility so collection of toxics could become more frequent. At that time the county declined the offer. It is possible that this offer to Jackson County could still be available. Maybe it would be more cost effective to team up with Josephine County for a regional facility and we could reduce overall costs. If this interests you, let our elected officials know your preference.

Paint has been accepted year-round in Oregon since 2010. That was when the state added paint as a "Producer Responsibility" program, similar to televisions and computers. For this reason, paint is no longer accepted at the haz-waste annual event. The exception is if the can is so old its unclear what's inside.

The cost is still 5 bucks and your safe disposal of hazardous waste is appreciated by creatures great and small.

Risa Buck has served on the Ashland Conservation Commission and in waste prevention education for more than a decade. You may reach her through betling@dailytidings.com. Find past WasteNot columns online at bit.ly/rbwastenot.