A recycle symbol made of medicine bottles

Going Green with Psoriasis

I don’t usually watch the news because...well...scary...but I happened upon some news on Earth Day this year. One thing they mentioned is that the average person generates roughly 4.5 pounds of trash PER DAY. As I look around at all my empty medication bottles, tubes and sharps containers I have the feeling that I may be producing more than that average. So it got me thinking: how can I be a more environmentally conscious chronic illness dude? The first thing that came to my mind is the old adage “reduce, reuse, recycle!”

Reduce

As much as I would love to reduce the amount of medications I use, that wouldn’t bode well for my health. So I had to do some thinking of what I could reduce in my life that would be beneficial for the earth. In this quest, I realized that I could ask my doctor for larger quantities of some medications. For instance, I can request prescriptions for 3-month supplies, and instead of getting a ton of little tubes of ointments that are much harder to recycle, I can get it in a larger quantity tub. These are often only available through mail-in pharmacies, but they are worth looking into and often are at a cheaper copay.

Another way to reduce waste is by taking advantage of RX take-back programs. Many local areas have locations that you can take unwanted (that topical that never worked) or unused medications and dispose of them safely and in a way that won’t hurt the environment. The FDA recommends contacting your local law enforcement officials to find out more information.

Reuse

This one is a little harder since you SHOULD NOT reuse sharps or take anyone else’s unused medications. Instead, I have focused on things around my house that I use to take care of myself. One of the ways I do this is by reusing laundry items for more than one use. For instance, with my sheets, there are sometimes where I want my wife (don’t hate—I do the dishes) to wash them every day due to the flakes and blood that I leave behind. This uses a ton of water and wears out linens pretty quickly. Instead, I have switched to dedicated sleeping pants that I wear 3-4 days at a time. I thought I would feel gross, but it actually isn’t bad. It keeps my sheets looking better longer and has cut down on my (wife’s) laundry pile.

You can also reuse tubs and containers for a variety of storage after washing them out with warm water and soap. This is especially true for those that have tight-fitting lids. If you don’t have a need for them, check with your local schools. Often times they have crafts they can use them for or store beads and small items in them. Just think! You can help keep small items from getting shoved up kid noses!

Recycle

You are probably thinking this one is a no-brainer, but here are a couple tips anyways. Medication bottles that hold pills are almost always recyclable. The important thing to remember before chucking them in the bin is to take off the labels that have your personal information on them. Ointment tubes are also recyclable once you determine what the material they are made out of is (aluminum, nylon, plastic, etc). All you have to do is squeeze out any remaining medication, then cut a slit in the side of the tube and clean the inside with soap and water. If it is especially greasy, Dawn dish soap works well. Not sure where to recycle certain materials? Earth911 has a great search resources. If there is quite a bit of medication left in it, be sure to follow the FDA’s guide to safely disposing of it (don’t just put it down the drain people!)

  1. Take prescription drugs out of original containers.
  2. Mix drugs with a substance such as cat litter or used coffee grounds.
  3. Place this mixture in a disposable container with a lid. The guide suggests an empty margarine tub or a sealable bag.
  4. Throw the sealed container with the drug mixture in the trash.
  5. Conceal or remove any personal information and prescription number from the empty packaging by covering it with a permanent black marker or simply scratching it off. Throw the packaging in the trash.1

Do you have more ideas to help save the planet while saving your health? Share them with the community!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The PlaquePsoriasis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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