In addition to household hazardous waste collection programs, the Los Angeles City Bureau of Sanitation encourages consumers to use safer alternatives.
Its "Household Hazardous Waste" brochure lists more than 100 inexpensive recipes for garden, paint and household products.
Rather than pesticides, you might foil roaches by placing bay leaves around cracks in the room and leaving out dishes of equal parts baking soda and powdered sugar. The last resort is a mix of powered sugar and boric acid (a poison). For other pests, a soapy water spray can be an insecticide, and a shallow pan filled with stale beer will kill snails and slugs.
To protect the family pet, alternatives to toxic flea collars include eucalyptus ointment, herbal baths and a pinch of brewer's yeast or Vitamin B with dinner.
Household cleaning alternatives abound. Baking soda can clean a toilet bowl, substitute as a scouring powder or clean an oven. Vinegar and water will clean glass, and three parts olive oil with one part vinegar make furniture polish.
The brochure also includes safety tips, telephone numbers for information and toxic emergencies and disposal options. To request the brochure, send a postcard to HHW Hotline, 419 S. Spring St., Suite 800, Los Angeles, Calif. 90013.