Too bad lucky doesn’t rhyme with toad. While straightening the garage the other day, some flattened cardboard packaging was set aside for recycling day. The spot chosen to stack the pieces was only “a hop, skip and a jump” from the herb garden.
As the world becomes more crowded and more environmentally savvy, the long term effects of what was once seen as a simple common sense solution to the disposal of old pills and other medicines is now recognized as creating issues all of us need to heed. Drugs that weren’t available two or three generations ago are now part of everyday life. There are also just flat out more of us using medications. Those two factors have combined to present new problems that need new solutions.
Trace amounts of many drugs, including antibiotics and mood stabilizers, are showing up in the drinking water supply of millions of Americans. One way this is happening is from the past advice and standard practice of flushing old medications down the toilet. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that drugs are present in water that supports many species of fish and other wildlife. More research is being done to see if there is a correlation between reports of fish abnormalities and the improper disposal of prescription medicine.
Here are the new guidelines:
- Do not flush unused medication. The old standard has been changed. Flushing medication can adversely affect the environment.
- Crush solid medication and dissolve in water; dilute liquid medications in water. Then mix the solution with kitty litter, sawdust, shredded newspaper, powdered spackling compound or whatever you have on hand that would absorb the solution. Be especially vigilant that a child or pet does not have access. Place the material in a bag, seal shut and and put in garbage.
- Talk to your pharmacist. Ask for more tips on the proper disposal of prescription medicines. Some pharmacies now accept unused medications for disposal. Also check your local municipalities to see if there is a collection program available for unused medications.
Multiply the good vibes of spring cleaning by donating the extraneous fluff of your life to good causes. www.Soles4Souls.org is a branch of www.GiveShoes.org. Either website will provide the details on how to donate your old shoes to those in need in more than 40 countries around the world. www.letmeplay.com/reuseashoe is a program sponsored by Nike that turns old sneakers into basketball courts, tennis courts and other playing surfaces. Nike has collection spots in some stores and logical places like athletic clubs. If a donation spot doesn’t present itself locally, there is a mailing address listed on the website.
www.ExcessAccess.org matches household items with non-profits that need them. Since beginning they have kept nearly 20,000 tons of material out of landfills. Typical donations are desks, tables, filing cabinets, beds, children’s clothes and toys–in short, everyday household items. www.DressforSuccess.org helps disadvantaged women in other countries as well as the United States who are interviewing for jobs. Clean outfits are matched with gently used shoes, bags and jewelry.
At the end of spring cleaning, you should be positively glowing with good karma. Not only have you cleaned out your house (decluttering your psyche, too, along the way), you have also helped the environment. The landfill is that much smaller, there is energy saved by not making new items, and, most importantly of all, you have helped others who really need the help.
Stacks of bulky calendars, address lables and greeting cards from charities are proof of your contributions, but frequently become just another batch of things to recycle. Supporting these groups is admirable, but the fall out can result in a less than charitable attitude the next time donation season arrives.
An on-line website, www.networkforgood.org, affords a way to donate anonymously. The group sends your donation but not your name or contact information. Guilt free donations without the full mailbox. Another way to banish junk mail and help the planet.
Get the word out. Today at 8:00 pm EDT, a world wide movement is set to honor our Earth and its environment for one hour. Called Earth Hour, the simple request is to turn off the lights for one hour. Just the electric lights–not refrigerators or furnaces or even TV’s.
If everyone really did it, the impact would probably be significant. What would be even better is if afterwards, people became more conscientious about all the things that are plugged in, charging or in stand-by mode. One small example: Heard a report yesterday on the news that it is estimated that 50% of the world’s population has a cell phone. A cell phone charger that is not being used to charge the battery still draws a small current–unplug it when not in use.
Save electricity, some money and the Earth. And by the way, you may polish your wings for being such a good citizen.
The gardening catalogs are blooming, but unfortunately there is nowhere to plant them except the recycling bin. Several weeks ago when the blue morning glory seeds were ordered from a catalog, a rush to beat the mailman allowed an important editing feature to be overlooked.
An environmental organization in California has launched a website www.catalogchoice.org. The site allows you to search for catalogs by name, asking to be cancelled from the ones you no longer want to receive. There is also a “Suggest a Catalog” link at the bottom of the page if the one you are looking for is not already on the list.
Time to start weeding….