#GoWilde Week 39: Think Before You Toss

All medicines expire- so what do you do with expired medicine? Some people throw it in the trash, there are myths of mixing it with kitty litter or coffee grounds, and others will flush it down the toilet. All of these methods have harmful effects on the environment, animals and even us. Returning your unwanted medicines to a take-back program and to pharmacies is the safest and most environmentally protective way to dispose of unused medication. 

Throwing medicines in the garbage is not safe because the drugs can be found and used by others, even if they are mixed with undesirable materials like coffee grounds or kitty litter. Prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the country. Also, pets and animals are not deterred by kitty litter or other substances when getting into the trash and can potentially ingest the unused medicines. Human medications are the leading cause of pet poisonings, most often from trash-related toxic exposures.

Medicines that are flushed or poured down the drain can end up polluting our waters, impacting aquatic species, and contaminating our food and water supplies. Most medicines are not removed by wastewater treatment plants or septic systems. Numerous studies have shown that estrogen and chemicals that behave like it have a feminizing effect on male fish and can alter female-to-male ratios. Other research has uncovered popular antidepressant medications concentrated in the brain tissue of fish downstream from wastewater treatment plants. Using a medicine take-back program is a simple, sensible way to reduce the amount of medicines entering the environment.

So #GoWilde and starting thinking before you toss your old medicine!