Photo of medications
Organize Your Medicine Cabinet

Here is a project that is difficult to bring up to the top of our priority list – the medicine cabinet.  It’s not fun and you don’t get to purchase pretty dividers to finish off the project.  But, it can be satisfying just to create more space and certainly make it easier to find what you need when you get a cold or the flu.

Start by emptying your space.  As you do, sort into these categories:  keep, toss in regular trash, recycle, and things to take to a medication drop-off site.

Keep:  check the expiration dates as you work.  Keep only those that you use, and which have not expired.

Regular trash:  stretched out ace bandages or any packaging that is made of mixed materials, such as packets that are a combination of foil and paper.

Recycle:  cardboard packaging and leaflets from medications; empty plastic or glass bottles.

Take to Drop-off site:  any expired prescriptions, whether liquid, inhaled or tablet.  Here’s how it works.  There are containers that look like a mail receptacle – the kind you drive by – only they are green.  They have an opening that will only hold something about the size of a sandwich.  Anything larger than that will not fit through the opening and you have to repackage it before you go.

Tablets:  remove all tablets from their original containers and place them into small zip-top plastic bags.  Don’t use a gallon size, or it won’t fit through the opening.

Liquid:  if the bottle is larger than about 4” high, transfer to more than one container and seal tightly.  Place in a zip top bag.

Inhalers:  remove personal information and place in a plastic bag.

After you empty tablets from prescription bottles, use a Sharpie to mark through your name on the label.

Next, you will want to find your drop-off location.  If you’re in Contra Costa County, visit the website http://co.contra-costa.ca.us/depart/cd/recycle/options/mmeds.htm to find your nearest location.  For other areas, check www.earth911.com, type in your zip code and “medications” and it will give you a list.  My closest location is right across the freeway.  At this particular spot, I don’t even have to talk to a person; the drop box is located in a Sheriff’s department lobby.  There is nothing to fill out, just be sure you have everything prepared properly ahead of time.

Finally, make a list of items you are missing and need to purchase.  Now, you have a functional and efficient medicine cabinet.  Aaaachooo!

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