Breaking the drug (in the toilet) habit

I rarely (and I do mean rarely) ever take medications, pain relievers, antibiotics or anything FOR anything. That’s just me, but that’s not everyone.

I love my in-laws dearly, but they literally have a ‘lazy-susan’ of medications in a huge cupboard.  Some are undoubtedly necessary, but I guarantee that many are expired and of no use to anyone.  The problem with this is what many people typically do with their expired or unused medications.

Ahh, the flush-factor.  Bad habit.

Many people just dump them in the toilet and flush them.  While this may seem to be a likely option (over throwing them in the trash and having them found by animals or [shudder] children, or sending them to trash dumps and having them absorb into the ground) they’re creating another danger.  They’re being found in our tap water, in increasing amounts, because most water treatment plants are unable to filter them out.  Tests are turning up antibiotics, birth control hormones, anti-depressants and all kinds of nasty stuff.

Add to the problem – there aren’t a lot of options just yet.  I’ve heard about grinding them up, putting them in coffee grounds or kitty litter in a sealed container and putting them in the trash, but that just adds trash in non-biodegradable containers to landfills!

So, let me make a few recommendations:

  • Contact your local pharmacy.  More and more of them are accepting old and unused medications and properly disposing of them. I’d like to see more of them step up too.
  • Check Earth 911. Enter “unused medications” in their “Start recycling” search.
  • Consider a donation of unused and unexpired meds to The Starfish Project.  They will go to help HIV-positive individuals in Nigeria.  They accept a variety of antibiotics, antivirals, and tons of non-ARV medications, and pay your shipping costs too.

I guess we just need to consider whatever we can do to keep them out of rivers, lakes and our water supply.  They’ll find their way “back to us”… in our foods, drinking water, etc.

I doubt Mr. Fish and Mrs. Duck need our old birth control… I know our kids don’t!

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