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Recycling 101

Fri, Jul 2nd, 2010
Posted in Home & Garden

I would assume that nearly every home in Fillmore County has at least one container of medicine that is no longer wanted, needed, or has reached its date of expiration. How do you safely dispose of these excess tablets, liquids, and capsules? I am asked this several times each month. Proper disposal of medication is not difficult, however, it is extremely important.

DO NOT flush them down your toilet or drain them into your sink. DO NOT just throw them into a ditch or bury them in your garden. They are not environmentally friendly and will put many living things in your area, including your children, your grandchildren, your pets, wild birds and other animals, and you at risk.

Medicines can harm beneficial bacteria found in septic systems on farms and municipal wastewater treatment plants. They can kill the bacteria that are responsible for breaking down waste. To make matters worse, many of these drugs are not destroyed as they travel through the system. Small concentrations are then released into nearby streams, rivers, and lakes, exposing aquatic life to unwanted drugs, hormones, and steroids. Some experts believe the deformed frogs discovered in Minnesota a few years ago were offspring of ancestors who were exposed to minute amounts of drugs over a period of many years, changing their genetic patterns.

How can we dispose of this stuff? Place pills and liquids into a laundry detergent bottle or plastic pop bottle. Add an inch or two or water. Allow the tablets and capsules to dissolve. Then add a few spoons of flour, charcoal, dirt or kitty litter, (used, if you have it) to discourage anyone from consuming the mixture. Then place the top on the container and add it to your landfill garbage. Do not put this with your recycling.

Do not accept free samples of pharmaceuticals if you are not going to use them. Purchase only the medication that you really need and keep it all in one location. This should limit purchasing products you already have, just to dispose of them when they expire a year or so down the road.

Evidence of drugs, hormones, and steroids has been found in many of our streams and rivers. Please help keep our beautiful streams in Fillmore County suitable for our trout and other aquatic life. A frog with five legs just doesn't seem like a good thing.

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