How to Dispose of Old Medicine


Whether you have wee ones with wandering fingers or not, one of the best things you can do is clean out your medicine cabinet, or wherever it is you store your medicine–prescription and over-the-counter. For us, it’s a shelf on one of our kitchen cabinets, which I figure is pretty child-safe, in close proximity to the water and glasses needed to take most medicines, and somewhere in plain sight so we actually remember to take said meds! My husband and I are pretty med-free…or so I thought. But a quick rifle through the various bottles clogging up turned up a lot of old stuff (pain medication prescribed after my son’s birth via caesarean two years ago!) that just needs to go. Flush those puppies right on down the toilet, right?

WRONG. So, so wrong. All that lovely medicinal sludge leaves our homes and makes its way into our water system.

[C]ommon sense and some worrisome signs — such as the appearance of fish with both male and female characteristics in the Potomac River near Washington, D.C. — call for keeping our waters as drug-free as possible. USA Today, April 22, 2007.

Instead, it is recommended that we: “Crush pills or dissolve them in water; dilute liquid medications, too. Then mix the drugs with kitty litter, coffee grounds or other unappealing materials. Place the mess in a sealed plastic bag and discard.” On the one hand, that’s a lot of steps to have to go through…on the other, it’s easier than trying to find a pharmacy or doctor’s office that will accept old prescriptions and dispose of them properly!

Arlington County Hazardous Materials Guidelines

DC Hazardous Materials FAQs

Northeast Maryland Hazardous Materials Guidelines
(Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Frederick County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County and Baltimore City.)

Image thanks to these folks.

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