It happens all the time. We get injured and receive pain medication, but don’t finish it all. We get eye drops and don’t finish them. The doctor changes your prescription the day after you get a refill. You had an allergic reaction to a medication so you were put on a different one.
Before we know it they are expired. And you might think that you’ll just toss it in the garbage or flush it down the toilet, but that’s not the safest way to dispose of your unused medication. These medicines leak into the soil or end up in our rivers and before you know it our rivers and lakes are all polluted with toxins from our medication.
Now of course just one person doing it probably isn’t going to have a huge effect, but if everyone does it, then it’s going to have an impact. If you don’t want to be contributing to the pollution of our soil and waters due to the disposal of your unused medication, then here’s how to dispose of unused medication properly.
Of course your doctor not giving you a new dosage of medication every time you go in would be helpful in reducing this problem. So would not getting six months’ supplies of the medication at once. While it might be cheaper to do it that way and even more convenient, this is how you can end up stuck with an overabundance of medication.
Some doctors and government agencies offer medication receptacles where you can dispose of your unused medications. But sometimes this is only run on certain days and times which are inconvenient or could be a distance away for you to get to. Check with your physician to see if he or she offers anything like this, but if not here are ways to safely dispose of your medication in the garbage.
How to Safely Dispose of Unused Medication
Remove your identifying information from the medicine bottle. Remove the label if you can, or mark over it with black marker if you can’t get the label off.
Mix the medication with something that will make it less likely for someone to reuse. Try coffee grounds, cooking oil, or kitty litter for this.
Put the mixture into a sealed bag before tossing it into the garbage to make sure there is no leakage.
There are certain medications that are particularly harmful if they get into the wrong hands. So, for those medications as soon as you are done using them you can flush them down the toilet. That is the safest way to dispose of those medications and prevent an accidental deadly overdose.
If you have an inhaler for asthma, bronchitis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), or any other breathing problems, you will want to be careful how you dispose of that.
Luckily new guidelines have made it so inhalers no longer contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) because they damage the ozone layer. They have been replaced with more environmentally-friendly inhalers, but there is still a concern with disposing of these inhalers. Read the handling instructions on them. You want to be careful not to puncture or throw them in an incinerator because that could be dangerous. Contact your local trash and recycling center for safe disposal of your inhaler.
Properly disposing of your medications is not only going to be good for the environment, but also good in general for those around you. No one will get a hold of your unused medications this way and use them in a nefarious way.