Thursday, April 08, 2010

Living Green. Or Yellow.

I read in Newsweek this week (or maybe it was Time, or The Atlantic) about the toll pharmaceuticals are taking on our water supply. (Over)medicated America is tossing leftover pills into our landfills, flushing them down the toilet, and peeing them into our septic systems. I knew some of this already, but the latest word on the subject was pretty alarming.

Since I don't take any meds on a regular basis, my urine is above reproach. But I know over the years lots of pills have gone from my house to landfills. The article said communities are setting up drop-off sites where residents can safely dispose of unwanted pharmaceuticals. Like the hazardous waste drop-off site I've been eagerly anticipating for years, this is not likely to happen in my community.

My dog Wolfy takes an arthritis pill every day. Actually, it's a piece of an arthritis pill. He started out with a half pill, but that was reduced to a quarter pill. Since the pill is small to begin with, and my eyes are not improving with age, it can be a challenge to cut the pills accurately. And once they're cut, the pieces are quite tiny.

This afternoon I shook out of his pill bottle a piece that was too big for a quarter and too small for a half. To make it the right size, I chopped a piece off. I set aside the piece I'd give to Wolfy, and picked the remaining piece up. I stood there, holding it. Now what? I shouldn't flush it or put it in the trash, and I couldn't very well cart it off to our non-existent disposal site. I stood there a while longer, thinking. No good ideas came to me.

In the end I dropped the piece of pill into a zip-loc sandwich bag, and put that in the trash. It seemed like the chicken's way out.

What would Susan Sarandon have done?


Dona said...

You know, I've wondered about this. What to do with leftover medications. Dean often travels is given preemptive antibiotics. We've got a shoebox full of them, most out of date. I don't want to flush them or through them in the trash, so they sit in his closet.

Dean and Clare had surgery that called for Vicodin that was not used.

Let me know when Susan Sarandon gets back to you.

Susan said...

In the meantime, maybe I can put in a call to Ralph Nader.

Sabine said...

I think drug stores will dispose of drugs for you. (Although, to be honest, I have a shelf-full of drugs that I haven't yet taken to the drug store in order to see if that's true.)

Susan said...

I was wondering about that. In the US they probably charge for the service. :-)

Eulalia Benejam Cobb said...

Oh, Lord, another thing to worry about--one I hadn't thought of before!