What to do with old pill bottles

What to do with old pill bottles

Going zero waste is a journey. While some people are still navigating how to wash their hair or eat a sandwich without volumes of plastic in their life, others just have a few pieces of plastic to go. Old pill bottles are one of the last pieces to go because they are so necessary, yet so hard to recycle.

Medicine bottles are one of those things you can’t simply refuse–especially if your life depends on the medicine inside. They can also be tricky to deal with if you’re trying to go zero waste. There are strict laws controlling pharmacies that make it unlikely they’ll reuse your pill bottles, and they are too small to go through standard recycling equipment.

If you’re struggling with what to do with your old pill bottles, these 3 tips should help you find them a permanent home.

#1: Check locally to see if it is recyclable

Medicine bottles are typically made of #5 plastic. If you happen to live near a recycler who accepts #5 plastic than this is a safe solution to reducing waste. Unfortunately, most recyclers don’t, so you’ll need to check first before tossing it in your recycling bin. If your recycler has the equipment needed to handle pill bottles and #5 plastic, it should be mentioned on their website.

If your local recycling company doesn’t take them, it’s worth checking with larger pharmacies such as CVS. Some pharmacies have recycling programs internally.

#2 Donate to Mathew 25 Ministries

Mathew 25 Ministries reuses cleaned and sanitized pill bottles in their shipments of medical supplies to people in need. Those bottles that can’t be used in medical shipments are shredded and recycled, with money generated from recycling going to support the ministry. This is a great way to handle your pill bottles, especially if you are willing to take the time to prepare them properly for shipment.

In order to be reused the pill bottles need to have the label removed, and the bottles thoroughly washed with soap and water.

#3 Reuse them yourself

Pill bottles can be a great way to sort out your plant seeds, buttons, beads, and other small items. While there’s a limit to how many you need, any second use is better than throwing it in the trash. Save a few for your personal needs, and when you no longer need them, one of the other options in this post can do the rest.

You can also offer them on buy nothing, free cycle, and other gifting sites to see if anyone who needs them wants them. Some churches for example, use them to fill with hygiene products for the homeless, shelters may need them, or crafters who simply have a large amount of beads to sort.

With these tips, you can find a safe haven for your old pill bottles, and take one more tiny step towards a zero waste world.

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