Don’t Be a Prick
Today is the inaugural “Blog Action Day,” formed by a group of bloggers to see what would happen if a thousands of bloggers wrote about a single issue.
This year, the topic is the environment.
Most people may not think that diabetes, or health care in general, has much to do with the environment. But I think it does.
Anyone who has had diabetes for more than, say, a day, has probably picked up on the fact that we use a lot of “stuff” to take care of our diabetes. We have test strips, we have insulin reservoirs, we have pump tubing, we have pump sets, we have juice boxes, we have lancets, we have syringes.
While most bloggers are going to write about the importance of recycling to help the environment, I want to take the time to highlight something that should never be recycled, should never be thrown out in regular trash.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates three billion needles are disposed of outside health care settings. That is a lot of used needles to be tossed into the garbage or recycling, leaving our solid waste management workers at risk for being exposed to hepatitis, tetanus, HIV and AIDS. Even if you are otherwise healthy, syringes can still transmit germs. Syringes thrown in the trash can also be taken for illegal drug use, as well as pose harm to mischievous children, pets or wildlife.
Although it might seem like the environmentally-friendly thing to do, sending your needles out through the trash or recycling is actually one of the most harmful things you can do to our environment. When I say environment, I mean our entire community: plants, animals and people.
2) Do not use soft plastic, like milk jugs, or glass containers as they can be punctured or can break. Don’t use coffee cans because the plastic lids can puncture or slip off.
3) Label the container clearly in waterproof marker with the words “Contains Sharps.”
4) When the container is 3/4 full, screw the top on tightly and duct tape for extra security.
5) Take your container to a designated medical facility. Hospitals and clinics are required by most state laws to accept medical sharps from private homes.
Do not put the sharps container in the recycle bin!
The Center for Disease Control has more information about safe needle disposal. Some states allow you to throw the puncture-proof container in the trash. Other states or communities require you to dispose of the container at a medical waste facility.
Also, different communities have special recycling programs set up to help take care of medical waste. These are a few examples. Ask your recycling company, city hall or local hospital or pharmacy for suggestions on where to take your medical waste. My father used to take my sharps container to a biohazard facility in the next town over, and we would receive a new sharps container for free.
As people with diabetes, we go through thousands of different types of needles and we should be aware of how our medical waste impacts the environment. We have enough to worry about with pricking ourselves, we shouldn’t have to worry about our needles pricking someone – or something – else and how that will affect the health of our environment, both natural and man-made.
Please be educated about the proper disposal of syringes and other medical waste!
Update: Here is the direct link to look up your nearest disposal center! Thanks Scott!
Information from this blog post was taken from:
Update: Thanks to Scott for commenting with these two additional resources!
Handle With Care: How To Throw Out Used Insulin Syringes and Lancets
A colorful booklet for young people and their families from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about disposal of sharps.
Safe Needle Disposal
Established in August 2002, the Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal is a collaboration of businesses, community groups, non-profit organizations and government that promotes public awareness and solutions for safe disposal of needles, syringes, and other sharps in the community.
Visit the official site for Blog Action Day for more information on how you can help the environment through blogging and to read more blog posts from the more than 15,000 participants.