It would be nice if pharmacies offered some sort of pharmaceutical disposal service so as to stop people from simply flushing unwanted medications down the toilet
I'm a big fan of discarding dangerous things responsibly and recycling them if at all possible, but sometimes this seems to be a bit of an uphill battle.
A couple of years ago, for example, I turned my attention to batteries. Around three billion of these little scamps are discarded in the United States each year, releasing all sorts of unpleasant substances -- including mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel -- into the environment.
Most people don’t know where to take these little rascals, so they end up dumping them into the trash. This really niggled me, so I created my own "Battery Recycling Station" located next to the coffee machine in our office's kitchen.
(Source: Max Maxfield)
Everyone in the building now drops their old batteries into this box. When it starts to fill up, I simply empty it into a carrier bag and drop the batteries off at my local Batteries Plus Bulbs store for recycling.
More recently, my attention turned to unwanted pharmaceuticals. Generally speaking, I take all of my prescriptions from beginning to end, so this isn’t typically a problem. However, my doctor just told me to stop taking a certain medication (something to make me even more wonderful, but she says I'm already wonderful enough), thereby leaving me with a 180-day supply that was now surplus to requirements.
I don’t know why, but I sort of assumed that all pharmacies would offer some sort of pharmaceutical disposal service so as to stop people from simply flushing unwanted medications down the toilet. Sad to relate, my hopes were soon dashed.
My first port of call was a CVS store on the way home. When I asked the guy behind the counter, he said that they offered no such service. He also suggested that I try calling the local police department because he dimly recalled that they provided a drug drop-off day once or twice a year. Now, although that's jolly nice of them, it's not quite as convenient as one might hope.
My next stop was the pharmacy at the Kroger store near my home, but they said much the same as the guy at CVS. I was getting a bit despondent by now, but I thought I'd give it one more try, so I popped into a 24-hour Walgreens on the way into work this morning.
I was a tad surprised to see how many people there were milling around the pharmacy at ~7:00am, but I was on a mission, so I took my place at the back of the queue (I'm English -- if there's one thing we know how to do, it's form an orderly queue).
After about 10 minutes, I was next-but-one to the front of the queue. Isn’t it always the case that the person in front of you at the pharmacy never seems to have a clue? I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to ask so many questions about... well, let's not talk about that here (the gentleman in question was a little hard of hearing so he tended to shout, but -- as everyone in the store soon discovered -- his ears were the least of his problems).
Some excruciating (but extraordinarily educational) amount of time later, it was my turn to ask the oracle behind the counter for her sage advice. "Do you by any chance offer a service for the disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals?" I asked. You can only imagine my surprise and delight when she responded "We certainly do." And you can only imagine my surprise and chagrin when she pointed to one side and continued "You just drop them in that container over there."
I turned to look where she was indicating and there, just to the side of where I'd been standing for the last 20 minutes, in plain sight, was a huge, garbage-can-sized coffer festooned with garishly bright signs saying "Deposit your unwanted pharmaceuticals here."
After experiencing one of those Homer Simpson "D'oh" type moments, I thanked the lady behind the counter and -- with as much dignity as I could muster -- dropped my bottles of unwanted pills into the container, after which I ambled out of the store as quickly as I could.
How about you? Have you ever needed to discard any unwanted medications? If so, how did you achieve this feat?
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting