Disposing of Growroom Waste

By Shannon McKee
Published: June 1, 2016 | Last updated: April 26, 2021 11:52:51
Key Takeaways

Responsibly disposing of growroom waste isn’t always easy, especially with regulatory discrepancies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Still, we all want to do our best to make the planet a happier and healthy place. Shannon McKee offers some pointers on how best to discard common growroom materials no matter where you live.

All of us are trying to do our part to make the world a better place by responsibly disposing of our waste, but sometimes it can be confusing to find the right method of disposal necessary for all of your growroom waste.


You probably know what you should do with your plant waste already, but what about everything else? The proper way to dispose of your old light bulbs in your state may differ from another state.

Your local wastewater treatment plant may allow you to dump your wastewater down your drain in your region, but the system in an adjacent jurisdiction may not allow it. Here are some general rules of thumb on how to handle proper disposal, and some tips on where to find out what you can do in your area for disposal.


What Should I Do with my Wastewater?

Those who grow hydroponically are often left scratching their heads when it comes to the proper way to dispose of wastewater from their set-up. One option is to recycle it for watering potted plants. Just be sure that if the wastewater is high in nutrients that you don’t use it on plants directly in the soil as this could impact your local water table with runoff.

Another option that might be a little costlier in the beginning but will be great for the environment is to create your own backyard wetland. There are some great instructions online for creating a smaller version of what some water treatment plants are starting to do around the world.

Check with your local regulations before getting started, but this is a great alternative to dumping your wastewater. This method can also be used for other greywater sources in your home that you can collect to add to it, but be sure that it doesn’t have any types of toxic chemicals.


Extra or Expired Nutrients, Fertilizers and Pesticides

The proper way to dispose of these items will vary depending on your location, but there are a few options. Any nutrients or fertilizers you have that are dry, without any insecticides, pesticides or herbicides, can go into your garbage bin. Any liquid nutrients or fertilizers that don’t contain any insecticides, pesticides or herbicides can go down your sink if you live in an area with a sanitary sewer system rather than a septic system, but only in small amounts.

Hazardous waste pickup service is usually the only method of safely disposing of any items that contain pesticides. Typically, most areas will offer a service a few times a year where they will accept items they normally do not, such as paint, e-waste, tires and more. When in doubt, you can always save the nutrients and fertilizers without pesticides for your local hazardous waste collection. Contact your local waste management company to learn more about their efforts of hazardous waste disposal. They may offer the opportunity to bring these items to them on a more frequent basis.


Disposing of Grow Lights

Light bulb disposal can be tricky, and this goes for all light bulbs in your home, not just those in your growroom. Most light bulbs on the market have mercury in them, and as such shouldn’t be placed into your garbage bin to be taken to the landfill in your area. In fact, it’s illegal to dispose of any light bulbs with mercury in them in several states. These states, including California, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Washington, all have more rigid rules on disposing of light bulbs than the EPA. They can’t just be dropped into your recycling bin, either.

The good news is that there’s plenty of places that allow you to drop off your light bulbs for recycling. Visit for information on stores in your area that will recycle your unbroken light bulbs. There are also some mail-back services available online that allow you to use their recycling kits to mail back them for recycling, but these may require you to pay to receive the kit, which will include the return shipping charge. You can even set these aside for when your city has hazardous waste collections.

If you’re in a situation where it’s just not possible to recycle your light bulbs—they may have broken—and you’re not in a state or locality where it’s illegal, the EPA advises that you can throw the light bulb out using the proper precautions. You’ll need to seal it up in a plastic bag and add it to your trash for your next pickup.

Disposing of Use Plant Containers

Do you have containers that are building up in your growroom you’d really like to dispose of to clear up space? You may want to think of some ways you can reuse these old containers to help give the ecosystem a boost. Perhaps store something else in them or use them again next year for your seedlings. Be creative and think outside of the container!

Still thinking you’ve got to let them go? Some containers may be recyclable through your local recycling program. Plastic containers that are recyclable are marked with a number in the recycling symbol.

Your local recycling program will accept certain plastics for recycling, and often let you know in a pamphlet what numbers they take. If you live in a city without a recycling program that does curbside pickup, there may still be recycling in your area. Visit for help in finding these options.

Giving Away Your Old Growroom Equipment

Some of the items you’re looking to dispose of from your growroom may still have a purpose, just not for you. If you don’t have any friends or relatives that are interested in using the item, you may want to think about using a service like Freecycle.

You may think that no one will have a use for your item, but you’d be surprised. Freecycle and other similar services are online services that connect people who have things that they no longer want or need with people that want or need the item. Simply contact the person through the service by email and work out a porch pickup or other system.

These items are sometimes broken, but are often offered for parts or to be fixed by someone else that has the know-how. It can be fun and informational to check out what’s being offered on this site and what other people are looking to receive. You never know what treasures you may find or what things you consider trash you can give to someone else who needs it.

Disposing of your growroom waste should be carefully considered to help protect the environment. Just throwing everything into your garbage bin might be easier for you to do, but in the long run can result in your local landfill being even more dangerous to the environment.

Think about it this way: we can all make a difference with recycling because the efforts of everybody making an effort to recycle adds up. Recycling as much as we can makes the world a happier and healthier place.


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Written by Shannon McKee | Freelance Writer, Gardener

Profile Picture of Shannon McKee

Shannon McKee lives in Ohio and has been a freelance writer for several years now, including on her blog, Nicknamed by loved ones a garden hoarder over the past few years, she grows a wide variety of plants in her urban garden.

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