It’s tricky to dispose of expired prescription medications without polluting the environment. Flushing some drugs down the toilet can cause groundwater problems downstream. But there are ways to avoid those issues.
This Saturday, October 22 is a national day for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to collect unused or expired medications for safe disposal.
Check with local government entities to learn your options for safe disposal. If there are no medicine take-back programs or DEA-authorized collectors in your area, follow these steps to safely dispose of most medicines in household trash:
- Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds, so dumpster divers won’t be tempted to put the meds in their mouths;
- Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag;
- Throw the container in your household trash;
- Remove personal information on the prescription label of empty bottles or packaging; then dispose of or recycle the container.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has additional information resources about the safe disposal of medicines at this web page, including information on drugs that can be safely flushed. To find a local controlled substance disposal public location, search at this web page.
Let’s all do our part to downsize drugs we don’t need or use anymore in a safe responsible manner. You can learn more about downsizing in KICKING THE BUCKET LIST: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die.