It's true that along with clothing in my closet, I have drugs...and lots of them! Well, not anymore. This is a tough one. What do you do with all those expired pills? While I had an exceptionally large amount of pills...you could probably open your medicine cupboard and find at least one expired bottle of prescription poison. Whether it be those vitamins you didn't get to or your child's prescription of antibiotics from last years ear ache. So, what do we do with them?
Well, I know that throwing them in the trash is a HUGE mistake! Over time those little pills breakdown and seep their way into our watershed...effecting everyone's ponds, rivers, streams, lakes...drinking water. While your few pills might not seem very harmful, multiply them by everyone on your street, in your neighbourhood, in your city...we are talking about mass pollution! So, DO NOT PUT YOUR PILLS IN THE GARBAGE!
What about the good ol' theory of flushing those tablets down the toilet? One whoosh and they are gone for good. Nope. When George (Costanza that is ) said "they're all pipes" he wasn't really that wrong. Especially in our neighbourhood. When you flush the toilet, when your dishwasher drains, when your laundry tub drains and when your sinks drain...this water is all going to the same location. The destination is our city's combined sewer. In our neighbourhood's case, this sewer flows along collecting both sanitary water from our homes and rainwater from our streets. Therefore, when there is a large rainstorm our sewer can fill sending both sanitary and storm water into the lake! Yikes! A pleasant thought indeed. (cities do not build new combined sewer systems any longer, it's an out of date design)
Ideally, weather permitting, where does the water in the combined sewer end up? Well, the water from our streets (catch basins) flows, untreated, into Lake Ontario. Thus, the little painted fish around our catch basins are a friendly reminder that whatever you wash away into the catch basin will end up in our lake. The water from our homes flows to one of the city's waste water treatment plants where it is treated. Once treated it too is expelled into the lake. Unfortunately, some components of prescription medication cannot be broken down during the treatment process...thus potentially sending components of the pills you flush into the ecosystem. (Take a look at this to find out more about the treatment of wastewater in the City of Toronto's) FLUSHING IS NOT A SUITABLE OPTION.
Knowing this it was time to research what is the proper option. After a quick chat with a lady at the drug store I had my plan. Step 1, empty the pill containers into one clear, large Ziploc-type bag. Step 2, drop the bags of pills at the drugstore. Step 3, remove any identifiable information from the empty containers and throw them in the garbage (I couldn't find "prescription bottles" on the city's recycling list). That's it. Problem solved. Not too difficult at all.
Of course, I made this call about 19 months ago...so why wait? Why did I keep the drugs so long? Well, the usual excuse of "life is busy" does apply here. However, it might not be the only reason. I was in charge of the drugs when my mom was ill. I made a super awesome chart that clearly outlined when she was to take each drug, what it was for and what to take if that drug didn't work. I filled the weekly pill organizer. I went into her room every night to make sure she had taken her night time pills, and got her morning pills and water all set up on the table. I set her alarm and turned on the radio, so she could listen to the CBC as she fell asleep. That was one part of my role. Why I loved doing that nightly ritual was because I always got to get and give a hug and a kiss...say my "I love you" and "good night". Those ridiculous pills gave me those moments that I would pay any price to have back again. Now they are gone. Properly disposed of. My closet now only holds pants, shirts, shoes and the odd skeleton.