Most of us have medicine cabinets containing remnants of bottles, pills, and ointments left over from earlier aches and pains, injuries and illnesses. How should we get rid of surplus medications? Some have very specific instructions on disposition, which of course should be followed, but most don’t. Our mothers told us to flush them down the toilet, but that is seldom the right action, as those medicines remain unfiltered in the watershed and contaminate the water, the plants and animals in it, and ultimately ourselves. In recent years, major drugstore chains, such as Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS, have installed drop-off boxes to take back excess medicines. If no such facility is convenient, mix the medicines with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or coffee grounds (being careful not to crush tablets or capsules), seal the mixture in a plastic bag, and put it in household trash.
What we can do:
- Periodically thin out our unneeded and expired medicines.
- Use a drop-off box at the pharmacy, or seal and dispose of in the trash.
- Unless specifically instructed to do so, do not flush down the toilet.