Fall Clean Up of Your Medications: The Why and How of Disposal

Do you have expired medicines or ones you no longer take in your cabinets? Fall is a good time to do inventory and clean-up those while you’re doing the other Fall chores. Here’s the whys to dispose of them and the hows to properly do so.

• The biggest threat of unused medications lying around is the potential that you could take them by mistake, or children and pets could take them and suffer overdose and/or death.
• A growing threat is drug diversion – in other words, someone going through your trash to find your unused painkillers, etc., to support their drug addiction.
• Medications flushed down the toilet go directly to our groundwater system. Waste water treatment does not eliminate the harmful effects of medications.
• So, now we know flushing medications down the toilet is not good. There are a few medications that if even one dose was taken, they could be fatal to a child or a pet, so the safest thing to do is get rid of them immediately.

• Some law enforcement agencies will take unwanted meds throughout the year. Check with your local police or sheriff departments in your town.
• If you cannot get to a collection site, then take the meds out of their containers, and mix them into raw garbage. Then put the mixture in a sealed bag or can (an old coffee can with a lid) and put in your trash. Your efforts to disguise them and make them unappealing will help stop animals and people from finding them.
• Lastly, make sure your identifying information is removed from the pill containers. Remove the labels, or scratch off information that identifies you and the drug. You do not want someone seeking drugs to target you and your home for a break-in.

Now is the perfect time to clean out your medicine cabinets and kitchen cabinets, safely, protecting the environment, pets, children, and yourself from theft.

Holly Zielinski is the Director of Community Services for SeniorsPlus

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