Having raised three kids and cared for multiple family pets, medication disposal has always been an issue. In the past, I either flushed old medications down the toilet or threw them in the trash. Then I read that our water supply is becoming contaminated with human and veterinary pharmaceuticals.
Admittedly, I procrastinated finding somewhere to take my unused prescription and over the counter medications until I recently found a designated place to dispose of them.
Proper disposal keeps these drugs out of our drinking water supply and keeps us safe and healthy for the long term.
According to The World Health Organization (WHO), conventional and advanced wastewater treatment facilities are able to remove the majority of pharmaceutical compounds from our water supply. However, the EPA has plenty of published information verifying that pharmaceutical concentrations have been detected in water sources.
Medication take-back programs are the best way to dispose of unused medications.
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This method is encouraged by the EPA as the safest and most environmentally friendly way to dispose of these items. Takeback collection sites include places such as pharmacies, hospitals, government centers, and local law enforcement agencies.
I found a collection site by simply googling “drop off old drugs”. The first listings that came up were for my local pharmacies—CVS and Walgreens. Not all branches have drug drop off boxes, but according to CVS’s website, the store closest to my office had one, while Walgreens had one about 8 miles away. When I called the CVS pharmacy to confirm I could go there, they said they did not have a collection site at their office. The person I spoke to told me their closest store with a drop off box was approximately a 30-minute drive away. Yikes! I asked the clerk if he knew of anywhere closer. He suggested our local government center.
Next, I simply googled the name of my county and “drug drop off centers”. From there I found that my local police station, which is a mere 5 minute drive away, did in fact, have a collection site in their lobby.
I took my huge ziplock bag filled with 5 years of unused prescription and over the counter drugs and dropped them off at the police station’s collection box that day. The box looks like a mailbox and has a handle that operates the same way. Pull the lever toward you as if you were going to deposit a letter, but instead put your bottle or package in that spot and push the lever on the receptacle back. The old meds drop into the box. From there the unused medications will eventually make their way to a facility where they’ll be incinerated.
I’m glad I finally got that chore off my list and did my part to keep pharmaceuticals out of our drinking water.
What are your experiences with disposing of unused medications? Was it a big ordeal or quick and easy?
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