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Safe Medication Disposal for a Greener Earth

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Don't Flush or Dump!

Stop! Before you flush those pills or toss that ointment, consider the environment it will end up in. Our waste water treatment systems are not designed to remove medications, which means that your pills are going to end up in irrigation, the environment, and will live on in the form of an unhealthy future for our planet. 

Whether you have prescriptions that are expired, were filled in error, or simply unused, they should never, NEVER, go into your garbage or down the sink or toilet. Often these medications are surreptitiously taken from your trash by drug addicts, abused by experimenting teenagers, or eaten by pets and wild animals that get into your garbage.

So what should you do with these unused medications? Good question. I did a little poking around online, contacted hazardous waste departments, and got a variety of ideas. 

Some suggested dumping all medicines in sealable containers, and then covering the contents inside with water--just enough to saturate all of it. Tighten the lid and tape shut, marking it as destroyed medications. This, at the very least, makes the drugs unusable by any humans who might find this container.

I also learned that, in many areas, drop off stations are available for medications at free health clinics, pharmacies, fire stations, and hazardous waste drop sites, often located at solid waste management facilities. Some free clinics and homeless shelters take drop offs of slightly expired medications, as well. I suggest you let your fingers do the walking, as it appears to be different in every area I contacted.

While each municipality or county uses their own methods, each are trying to achieve the same goal--protect humans, animals and the environment. Here's a few suggestions you can check out in your area:

  • Call your local solid waste management office and speak with the hazardous materials department. They will advise you on your area's options for safe disposal. Some even know of local programs for donations.
  • If you have pills, tablets or capsules (not liquids), these can often be used well after their expiration, according to many sources. Contact free clinics, pharmacies and charities that ship medications to underdeveloped countries.
  • One final thought occurred to me and I made a call to my local physician--a humanitarian fellow whom I have often known to try to help folks out. He said that anytime someone has unused medications that are still sealed, he accepts them for free distribution to patients that lack healthcare insurance or sufficient funds to purchase these medicines.
If you have a family physician that is caring, you may find this same helpful attitude with a quick phone call. Remember, it's up to us to keep these toxic substances out of the environment that will continue to support our children and grandchildren. Let's take care of it.
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A Site for Gardeners--Big and Small. Come One and All:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

©courtesy of YourGardenShow.com
Wise Words Community Garden--
Just One Feature Among Hundreds
Now I have seen it all--social networking for gardeners at YourGardenShow.com. This new gardening site features examples of every type of garden, all over the world. From window boxes to raised beds to community supported gardens, to vegetables and flowers; you'll find it all here, submitted by the gardener.


Join in and get a conversation going with other gardeners. Get ideas, ask questions, learn about sources for supplies. YourGardenShow.com is a place where gardeners, families, farmers and restaurateurs come together to share their gardens. Even master gardeners' handiwork is available for view, an inspiring way to learn from the best.


And there's more. Cornell University has provided, for your personal research, an extensive database of 6000 vegetables and nearly 6000 ornamentals are cataloged from the Missouri Botanical Garden. If you don't find it here, where will you?


So, you may ask, what is the goal of this site? To encourage sustainable gardening, no matter what your back yard may look like. High rises have rooftops, and even rooftops are being gardened, so don't think you're out of luck.


As you enter the site, click on the Gardens tab and you'll be transported to around the world where you can visit gardens of all types and sizes. Visit the blog to learn more from a multitude of experienced gardeners, all wanting only to share their knowledge with you, even if all you can manage is a 1 square foot garden. You'd be amazed at what you can produce from such a tiny 'farm'. Hope to see you there!

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Single Days, Single Green Ways

Monday, August 9, 2010

(c) Alan Boyko
No Gasoline Required
With grown kids and a traveling husband, I often find myself home alone for a week at a time...such as last week. Not surprisingly, my daily routines change up quite a bit when there is no one to look after except me and the pups.

Without the need to prepare meals for a family, I find myself nibbling on raw, organic vegetables (Janice would be proud), getting a bit more sleep (no complaints there), finding more time for dog photography (my newest hobby), and blogging till my brains and fingers give out late at night.

How is all of this greener, you might ask? Well, the answer is more what I'm not doing, than what I am doing:
  • I'm avoiding shopping like the plaque, in favor of dog time and blog time (cute rhyme, huh?). This means less money spent on splurges, gasoline and groceries I probably wouldn't use during my grazing time.
  • Getting more exercise with the added time available is certainly a perk. The dogs have no complaints about extra walks and dog park visits.
  • My eating, while turning to grazing, is healthier and without meat (now, Richard will be proud). Just as my tomatoes appeared to be spent, they re-blossomed and are sprouting new babies. More nibbles for the weeks to come! These compost-grown tomatoes are without a doubt, the most tasty I've ever produced. No more fertilizer for me, and there's another savings.
  • My garden gets a little more attention, and I find myself enjoying giving away surplus, such as several bundles of Basil last week. I've got more than we can possibly eat, so if you're a friend or neighbor, feel free to raid the garden in front. Have you priced this stuff lately? Ugg!
  • When no one is home, and I'm not out and about, I occasionally skip the shower in favor of a swim with Tanner, my vivacious Golden Retriever. We both come out clean and cool, a pleasant experience on our hot, humid, August days. Much more fun than a movie or TV, as well.
  • Laundry and dishes minimized, along with showers, I'm sure I'm saving water as well as electricity. What's not to love about that?
  • Finally, with the bed half empty, I find myself with two additional furry bed partners. I'm not quite sure how that is green, but I'll work on it. I'm bound to find a way!
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Chico Bags Raises the Bar
on Reusable Shopping Bags

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

(c) Carrie Boyko
Test Run: Good Volume
I've been a ChicoBag user for several years, loving the portable, compact, attachable design. I've used their bags for gift bags (add a bow and you're ready to go!), shopping bags and I keep one in my purse for all those unexpected goodies I end up bringing home from just about everywhere I go.
(c) Carrie Boyko
All This Fits 
Inside the Bag
Yesterday I ventured into Costco to pick up a new Brita water filtering pitcher for my bathroom. I got tired of running to the kitchen for a glass of better tasting, healthier water. Our tap water sucks. Anyway, to my delight, my new Brita came with a ChicoBag inside. And not just the original. I was surprised to see this bag is a new design, made from recycled materials,  and much larger, for carrying groceries and such. I typed in their website address and found these facts for the bag I received (Vita rePETe):

Materials: Fabric 100% Recycled PET, Carabiner 97% Recycled Aluminum, Cord 100% Recycled PET, Cordlock 100% Recycled Polyurethane
Dimensions: Bag 19" x 15.5" Pouch 3.5" x 5" (approximately)
Capacity: 40 lbs.
Washing: Machine wash cold and hang dry.

Needless to say, I'm happy with the new bag and it's materials. I was pleasantly surprised to find a whole page of new designs--something for everybody--on the Chicobag webpage. Check it out. They have prints, messenger bags, specially designed grocery bags, and much more. I'm glad to see the world turning shopping bags into a fun new fashion statement. You?


Here's some of the ways I use Chicobags to save on plastic and paper:


Chic Chicobags Make Great Gifts and Wrapping
10 Organic Gifts Your Friends and Family will Truly Appreciate

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Cotton's Toxic Little Secret

Friday, July 16, 2010

Did you know that approximately 25% of all pesticides used in the world are applied to cotton crops. Scary, huh? Especially when you consider than you spend 8 hours a night wrapped in that toxic residue. Did I get you thinking? Hope so.

There's no getting past the fact that organic sheets, the fibers of which are produced without toxic pesticides, are more expensive than conventional cotton sheets. The better brands and higher thread counts are a lot more expensive.

Have you heard that you get what you pay for? Think about your long term health, sleeping in those toxin-laced sheets and imagine your 60s, 70s...will you get there in good health? There is a compromise that could go a long way in the Eco-friendly direction. Bamboo. 

Yep! Today they make fiber out of this fast-growing grass, a grass that needs little or no fertilizer and is extremely pest-resistant and drought tolerant. While you can buy organic Bamboo sheets, the all-natural ones are less costly and still quite Eco-friendly. 


You can read more about cotton and other health concerns over at Organic Journey Online, where you'll learn more about what to watch out for. Sleep well.


Image provided by Amazon

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Why Bat Houses are Eco Friendly

Saturday, July 10, 2010

We all know that over development of urban areas is causing habitat loss for wild animals and birds. Our continued development is not exactly Eco-friendly to our wildlife. But did we consider the bats? Yea...you know....those night flying creatures that hole up inside hollow trees, sleeping all day. We forget about them; they don't make any noise and are very hard to see, except on a moonlit night.

There's another problem. Displaced bats often find new homes in abandoned houses, using their attics for daytime lodging. This problem has been in our local news a good bit with all the homes that are in foreclosure currently. I'd hate to be the buyer of a bat-infested house. Imagine the first visit to your new attic--eek!

So, what possible reasons are there to be worried about protecting bats? Do they perform some function other than flying around at night? You bet; they eat bugs, flies and mosquitoes. Those pesky blood suckers come out at dusk, just as the bats are coming out. That's no coincidence. Nature designed it that way. The bats come out when the flying insects become most active, because that's when dinner is served. All they have to do is hunt, and the hunting's good in the evening when the mosquitoes come out to pester us. The food chain at work; that's Eco-friendly.

That said, a good reason to consider adding a bat house to your yard is that it will give you and your family a bit of protection from these biting flies, saving you from the dangerous bug sprays and toxic repellents that kill the pests, and long term, may have devastating effects on you, as well.

Recently I did a little poking around on the Internet to check out bat houses. A small, starter house, made from cedar wood can be picked up for under $25, including shipping. There are bat houses made out of all sorts of products, and loads of kits to build your own or plans to start from scratch. Appalachian Traveler did offer one 'old wood' version that had a certain farmhouse look that I liked, as well as plenty of tips and do's and don't.

So, why don't people already have bat houses in their yards? After all, many of my neighbors have bird houses hanging in their trees--me too. These are beautifully painted, and occasionally they even attract a nesting bird to use them. This is all good.

Unfortunately the bat houses are not as beautifully designed. I perused through site after site and found no bat houses that were attractively painted, decorative or even produced in a desirable color. What I did find was plain wood, plain plastic, and more plain, plain, plain.

You guys have seen my rain barrel, right? It used to be plain. My talented sister-in-law painted a lovely garden scene and now I'm proud to display it at the street-side of my back porch. I gets lots of comments on it. It really is pretty. That's it up there at the top. Nice, huh?

Why not do the same thing with a bat house? Since they are placed higher than bird houses, the logical design, in my mind, would be a sky scene. I can picture sky blue with puffy clouds. Toss in a few seagulls or other birds and you've got yourself a bat house that will be an attractive addition to your landscape, provide a home for displaced bats, and will give you a little help in mosquito defense. 

I'm in. If any of my family is reading this, put a bat house on my 'wish list'. I'll paint it  and have a nice addition to my back yard. 
© Mother Earth News
I like this installation better than the one just above, but there are plenty of options, including attaching them to your house or a separate building on your property--garage, barn, etc. Most are attached to a pole like this:

©saybats.com
Who's next?
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Green Up Your Social Networking with these Sites

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Check out Your Carbon Footprint Online
Facebook is so yesterday. If you really want to hobknob with the folks who know how to live like you'd like to, there are a bunch of social networking sites where you can do just that.

Want to get involved in or talk climate policy? Check out 2 People, World Coolers and Celsias. Speaking of carbon emissions, there are a number of sites that are all about minimizing these, helping folks measure their carbon footprint, and getting the message out to businesses and municipalities. Try:
Want more? There are a number of others that are involved in a variety of different areas that should do some good:

I tried out Make Me Sustainable and found their carbon footprint calculator to be fairly thorough. I liked that you can go back and make modifications in your calculation, whenever you make a change in your lifestyle. It was fun to see my footprint go down when I did something more sustainable. 

Now that I'm driving a hybrid instead of a gas-guzzling SUV, I need to go back and change my automobile. I guess it will really plummet with that change. Gotta go now; I'm curious to see how big my feet are this time!

Have fun checking out these networks, and feel free to let me know what you think about any of them you try. The comment link hasn't moved. It's still down there at the bottom of the post...ON the blog. If you're receiving this via subscription, you can always visit www.NewKidontheGreenBlock.com to leave a comment. I assure you it will be much appreciated.
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