Spring Cleaning: A Dose of Your Own Medicine

First aid for your medicine cabinet.

This challenge is in partnership with Levi's ®

Clean out that overflowing medicine cabinet so you can find what you need in an emergency, and get rid of old or unneeded medications in a way that’s safe for the environment.

As you begin to go through your stash, resist tossing your old meds in the trash or down the toilet. It could be found and consumed by other people or animals. Plus, traces of pharmaceuticals, including hormones, antibiotics, and mood drugs, have steadily increased in our water supply. As long as we’re taking medicine, some of that contamination will occur naturally (we expel residue of our medicine as waste), but some of that impact is also due to people throwing away their medicine. Scientists don’t know how we’re being affected by the low levels of drugs in our drinking water, but it is a concern that they are studying.

  • Dispose of old drugs at a designated take-back location. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s next National Take-Back Initiative is April 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. At October’s collection, Americans turned in 188.5 tons of unwanted or expired medications, all of which might otherwise have ended up in a landfill. Check out the DEA’s website to find a collection site near you, where they will take the medication and incinerate it.
  • If, after all, you decide you’re going to throw your meds away, crush your pills or tablets, then mix them with water or a material like sawdust or kitty litter, and seal them in a plastic bag.
  • Medicine that has expired, both prescription and over-the-counter, can lose effectiveness or even pose a hazard to your health. Besides medication, a lot of your favorite items have a shelf life: Lotions and sunscreens should be replaced every year.
  • Combine duplicates into one bottle, then recycle the other.
  • If you have children or young visitors, keep in mind that research from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America found that “the No. 1 source of medicines that kids abuse is their own home medicine cabinet or a family member or friend's home.” Keep your medicines in an area that’s locked or out of reach of curious hands.
  • Once you’ve cleared out what you don’t need, stock your medicine cabinet with items you should always have: sunscreen, aloe vera (for minor burns), bug repellant and bug bite relief, heating and cooling packs, and a first aid kit with bandaids, antiseptic wash, and ointment for wounds.
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Photo via (cc) Flickr user zokah_921.

We're giving away $500 to put this challenge into action! Participate in the 'Clean Up Your Act' challenge on GOOD Maker here.

To learn more about how you can save water every day, click here and take theWater<Less Challenge.

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