A PRESCRIPTION FOR SAFER MEDICATION DISPOSAL

Pills 2

If you visited your physician this year, chances are, you walked away with a prescription. In fact, four out of five patients leave their doctor’s offices with a prescription. Annually, the average North Carolinian fills 14 prescriptions, and 127 million drugs enter households in the state. However, 40 percent of prescription drugs dispensed to consumers are never used, and over $1 billion of medications are either stored or discarded every year, leading to a myriad of environmental and public health issues.

Environmental chemists Christian Daughton and Ilene Ruhoy once wrote, “Wastage of medications not only maximizes the ability of active pharmaceutical ingredients to enter the environment with largely unknown consequences, it also increases the likelihood that drugs can be diverted to others for unintended purposes, leading to drug abuse and accidental poisonings.”

The sources of prescription drug disposal are unclear, and the percentages of active pharmaceutical ingredients in the environment that originate from disposal are not known. However, recent monitoring studies have detected low levels of a range of pharmaceuticals including hormones, steroids, antibiotics and parasiticides in soils, surface waters and ground waters across a wide range of hydrological, climatic and land use settings. The United States Geological Survey estimates that over 80 percent of waterways have detectable concentrations of APIs. Antibiotics, anticonvulsants, mood stabilizers and hormones have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 40 million Americans. Concentrations are currently below levels that would cause concern, but if these concentrations increase and become more widespread, they could certainly pose a threat to public health and have adverse effects on both aquatic and terrestrial organisms.

Furthermore, both prescription medicines and over-the-counter medicines cause a vast majority of the unintentional poisonings in the United States. According to the North Carolina Division of Public Health, over 1,000 people die in the state each year from overdoses on prescription drugs.

The safest and most sustainable disposal options for prescription and OTC medications are through law enforcement agencies or government programs. The Fort Bragg Office of the Provost Marshal accepts medications at the Law Enforcement Center in Building 2-5634 on Armistead Street. The Fayetteville Police Department at 457 Hay Street accepts prescriptions, OTC medicines, vitamins, pet medicines, ointments, lotions and liquid medications in glass or leak-proof containers. They do not, however, accept needles, thermometers, blood or infectious wastes, hydrogen peroxide, aerosol cans, nitroglycerin, blood thinners or nicotine patches.

The state of North Carolina’s Operation Medicine Drop, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Event and similar programs are held at various times and locations through the year. In Cumberland County, Operation Medicine Drop is scheduled for Saturday, September 27 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the following locations.

  • North Post Exchange on Fort Bragg
  • North Carolina State Highway Patrol office at 2435 Gillespie Street in Fayetteville
  • Cumberland County Law Enforcement Center at 131 Dick Street in Fayetteville
  • Eastover Fire Department at 3405 Dunn Road in Eastover
  • Stedman Fire Department at 7595 Clinton Road in Stedman
  • Wade Fire Department at 7130 Powell Street in Wade

Moore County collection locations can be found HERE.

For more information and for more collection points in the area, visit the North Carolina Department of Justice.

If you absolutely cannot discard your medications through a law enforcement agency or government program, be sure to discard them in a responsible manner.

To prevent accidental ingestion by people and pets, always secure medications carefully, and surrender or responsibly discard these medications as soon as they are no longer required in the manner stated on the label. Do not flush a prescription, though, unless the label specifically directs such disposal.

The Food and Drug Administration recognizes that there are environmental concerns associated with the introduction of medications into the wastewater system, but the agency maintains that the risks associated with the exposure to certain controlled substances outweigh the risks associated with their disposal by flushing. These medications include Demerol, Oxycontin, Percoset, Diazepam, Tramadol and drugs that contain fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, buprenorphine hydrochloride and their derivatives. These substances can be harmful or fatal if ingested by someone other than the person for whom they were prescribed.

If you cannot discard your medication through a law enforcement agency or government program and the label does not specifically recommend disposal by flushing, you can discard it in your household trash with certain precautions. Do not crush tablets or capsules, and do not place medications directly in the trash. Instead, combine them with an unpalatable substance such as cat litter or coffee grounds in a sealable plastic bag or sturdy container, and place the sealed container in the trash. A new innovation called Pill Terminator is another option. One can collect as many as 300 pills in the Pill Terminator bottle and fill the bottle with warm water, which combines with a powder that destroys pills for safe disposal in the trash. Visit The Pill Terminator for more information.

Plastic prescription bottles can be recycled. Bottles should be empty and clean, and all pertinent prescription and personal information on the label should first be removed or thoroughly obscured prior to recycling.

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Rx Drug Disposal

FOR MORE INFORMATION …

Food and Drug Administration: Disposal of Unused Medicines

North Carolina Department of Justice: Prescription Drug Abuse

EPA Medicine Disposal Guide

Office of National Drug Control Policy Prescription Drug Abuse Initiative

Dispose My Meds

 

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THE POWER OF GREENER ELECTRONICS

Recycle Keyboard

How many times do you use electronic devices on an average day? Nielsen Surveys estimates that the average American adult spends 11 hours each day with some sort of digital media. Worldwide, there are over five billion cellular phone subscriptions, 1.4 billion television sets and 1 billion computers. These statistics prove that people across the globe have not only embraced electronics but are dependent on them.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the processes used to manufacture electronic devices are energy intensive, water intensive and chemical intensive. The creation of a 0.07 ounce microchip uses 66 pounds of raw materials including water and substances such as flame retardants and chlorinated solvents. Nearly 530 pounds of fossil fuels, 48 pounds of chemicals and 1.5 tons of water are used in the production of one computer monitor. And, electronic equipment is part of an increasing and complicated waste stream that poses challenging environmental management problems.

The electronics industry has made some strides toward the creation of more sustainable devices. The amount of power required for high-definition gaming devices, for instance, has decreased by 50 percent since 2006. Computer energy efficiency has doubled every 1.57 years and is expected to continue at that pace for the foreseeable future. Some companies have phased out environmental contaminants such as PVC, phthalates, lead, mercury and arsenic in their products, and they have significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and are using renewable energy sources in their production processes.

There are still barriers in the sustainable electronics market, though. Certain manufacturers have abandoned the green features of their products in favor of design and cost considerations. Although it has been enacted in the European Union with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, government legislation on the use of harmful materials in the manufacture of electronic equipment has yet to gain momentum in the United States. The Environmental Design of Electrical Equipment Act was introduced into Congress in 2009 and was intended to regulate the use of certain substances in electrical products. However, the resolution never passed.

What can you do as a consumer to green your electronics?

The most sustainable electronic device is the one that you do not purchase. Electronics retailers are consistently developing and marketing the latest and greatest models of popular devices, so consumers are constantly seduced by upgrades that render products fashionably obsolete before they are practicably obsolete. In fact, the 140 million cellular phone users in the United States own at least two devices and discard their phones for a new model every 14 to 18 months. However, a cellular phone can last for an average of four years with proper care and maintenance. Additionally, there are many versions of similar products on the market. Reduce the costs and wastes associated with electronics by employing all of a single device’s features such as its camera, alarm clock and music player and by refraining from the purchase of multiple products that complete that same tasks. And, use a single device as long as possible.

When you purchase an electronic product, consider a used or refurbished item to extend the life of the device and save money. If you must purchase a new electronic item, consider a greener device. Greener electronics are more energy efficient, can run on renewable energy, are designed to be durable and reliable, and are manufactured with more sustainable, safer materials. Avoid the purchase of electronics that contain harmful substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ether. These chemicals, often used as solders and flame retardants, present numerous health concerns. Purchase electronics with the Energy Star or EPEAT certification to save energy.

In devices that require batteries, trade disposable alkaline batteries for rechargeable batteries, and learn to charge your batteries properly. Lithium ion batteries should be stored with full or partial charges, and the batteries should be used periodically. Nickel metal hydride batteries perform best when they are used on a full drain-full recharge cycle. For more information on proper battery care, visit Green Batteries.

Choose renewable energy chargers that use solar, wind and even kinetic energy to power your electronics.

Save energy by powering down and unplugging electronic devices when they are not in use. Forty percent of the energy used to power electronics in your home and office is consumed when your devices are turned off.

When an electronic device is obsolete, consider a buy-back or trade-in program. Major retailers such as Best Buy and Target as well as Internet sources such as Gazelle, Amazon and NextWorth offer buy-back and trade-in programs. Or, sell your device yourself or donate it to a charity.

When an electronic device has truly reached the end of its useful life, recycle it. According to Nokia, only three percent of cellular phone users recycle their obsolete phones. Electronic waste recycling is important, though, because electronics contain valuable recyclable materials such as plastic, glass and metal. Electronics also contain chemicals that can leach into the environment if they are not discarded properly. Furthermore, computers and televisions are banned from landfills in North Carolina. The Fort Bragg Recycling Center accepts personal electronics at the facility in Building 3-1240 on the corner of Butner Road and Reilly Road. For other electronics recycling facilities in North Carolina, visit ECycling Central.

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Greener Electronics

E-Waste

FOR MORE INFORMATION …

Greenpeace International Guide to Greener Electronics

Green Electronics Council

EPEAT

Greener Gadgets

Energy Star

10 Ways to Trade Your Electronics for Cash : Buy-Back Programs

REDUCING YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL PAW PRINT

Husky Pup

If your pet is a part of your family, shouldn’t he be as green as you are? With a few simple changes, you can reduce your environmental paw print and create a healthy, happy and sustainable companion.

CHOOSE A HEALTHY PET FOOD

To choose a healthy food for your pet, research the production methods and values of your pet food provider. Avoid brands that contain by-products, hormones, genetically modified ingredients, chemicals, preservatives, sweeteners, artificial flavors and artificial colors. Real meats and vegetables should be the main ingredients. All pet foods should be certified by the American Association of Feed Control Officials, an organization which ensures compliance with national requirements for pet food standards. Visit The Dog Food Project to learn more.

Or create your own pet food. A healthy balance generally contains 40 percent protein such as beef or chicken, 30 percent vegetables and 30 percent carbohydrates such as oatmeal or brown rice. For recipes, explore books such as Feed Your Best Friend Better: Easy, Nutritious Meals and Treats for Your Dog by Rick Woodford. Consult with your veterinarian to find the ideal balance for your pet.

CONSIDER ENVIRONMENTALLY PREFERRED ACCESSORIES

Choose pet toys and accessories such as leashes, collars, beds and dishes that are created with recycled content and biobased/natural materials such as organic cotton, hemp or corn plastic. Avoid petroleum based plastics and those that may contain bisphenol A or BPA. BPA is a chemical compound that may contribute to health concerns such as neurological disorders, cancer and obesity. Plastics marked with the numerals 3 and 7 can potentially contain BPA. Look for BPA Free on labels.

When you purchase dishes for your pet, stainless steel bowls are the most sustainable choices. Ceramic bowls are a sustainable option as long as they are marked Lead Free.

You can create your own pet toys with common reclaimed materials. Dogs will enjoy a recycled sock filled with an empty plastic bottle. Tie strands of scrap yarn to a hanger to create a fun toy for cats.

COMMIT TO PROPER PET HYGIENE

Dispose pet wastes properly. If pet wastes are not handled in a sanitary manner, they can infiltrate the water supply and create pollution.

Choose biodegradable business bags. Also, choose naturally derived cat litters. Clay cat litters can contain minerals that are extracted by strip mining, an activity that is detrimental to the environment. In addition, clay cat litters are not biodegradable. In fact, of the estimated ten million tons of pet wastes that travel to waste repositories every year, two million tons are non-biodegradable cat litters. Furthermore, clay cat litters often contain silica dust, which can be detrimental to the respiratory health of pets and pet parents. Environmentally preferred cat litters are produced with materials such as recycled newspapers, pine, wheat and corn.

Clean pet accidents naturally with environmentally sound materials. Use baking soda to remove excess moisture, and clean the affected area with diluted vinegar to effectively eliminate bacteria and odor. If a stain or odor remains, apply lemon juice to the affected area for 20 minutes and then rinse with water.

When bathing your pet, consider natural grooming materials and flea care products that do not contain parabens, sulfates, artificial dyes, artificial fragrances, phosphates and harsh chemical pesticides. Create an organic flea repellant by placing one drop of citronella essential oil, one drop of cedar wood essential oil, one drop of lavender essential oil and one drop of white thyme essential oil onto your dog’s collar. These oils will deter fleas for one week. Create a natural flea shampoo for dogs by combining one cup of liquid castile (vegetable based) soap and one cup of distilled water with one teaspoon of jojoba oil and five drops of peppermint essential oil in a bottle. Wash your dog as normal. Do not use essential oils on cats. According to veterinarian Dr. Richard Pitcairn, an herbal flea powder with rosemary is an effective and gentle flea remedy for cats. Flea combs are essential yet sustainable tools in your arsenal against pests.

PRACTICE THE THREE Rs

Consider the responsibilities of pet ownership prior to commitment. By purchasing or adopting an animal, you are commiting to care for that pet for the remainder of its life. Individuals who are not fully committed to pet parenthood often abandon their pets or donate them to a shelter, thus increasing the population of animals that can tax our resources.

Choose your pet carefully to ensure a successful experience. Consider a recycled animal and adopt from a shelter. Fort Bragg has a pet adoption facility on Reilly Road across from the Directorate of Public Works and just prior to the entrance to Pope Field. Call 396.6018 for information. There are many adoption facilities and shelters in Fayetteville and the surrounding region as well.

Reduce the pet population by spaying or neutering your pet upon your veterinarian’s recommendations. By humanely controlling the pet population, you can benefit your pet’s health and reduce strains on the environment.

Recycle clean pet food cans with your other steel cans.

Recycle used pet items by donating to animal shelters or veterinary clinics.

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Green Pet Flier

SOURCES OF GREEN PET PRODUCTS …

Muttropolis

Earth Animal

Pets Head to Tail

Harry Barker

Earth Doggy

Wagging Green

Hip Green Pet

The Good Dog Company

Aroma Paws

EcoPets

Pup Life

West Paw Design

Pups Place

Olive Green Dog

Planet Dog

EcoHound

FOR MORE INFORMATION …

Sustainable Paw Prints

How to Go Green:Pets

Green Your Pets

Collared Greens

Green Tips for Your Dog

KEEPING OUR COASTS CLEAN

Ocean Wave

With its sand, surf and sun, the beach is a perfect place to escape from daily life. But, coastal environments are constantly threatened. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, beach closures and swim advisories are at a record high due to beach water contamination.

Of the 30 states with coastlines, North Carolina ranks 5th for clean beach water. Every coastal state, though, has at least one beach with pollution issues. In 2013, more than 10 percent of the water samples collected at American beaches raised concerns about water quality, and hundreds of beaches throughout the country were closed at some point in the season as a result of these concerns.

Water contamination can have significant impacts on public health and on the environments and economies of beach communities. Water pollution leads to illnesses from conjunctivitis to hepatitis and from ear infections to rashes. Pollution degrades delicate coastal habitats. And, the beach closures that occur every year adversely affect revenue from tourism.

While legislation such as the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act and the Clean Water Act protect our waterways and provide federal funds to monitor the cleanliness of beach water, clean beaches are truly in the hands of beachgoers.

Clean beaches actually begin hundreds of miles from shore. Urban runoff is responsible for 60 percent of beach water contamination. Urban runoff, also called nonpoint source pollution, occurs when rainfall or snowmelt moves over or through the ground, collects natural or man-made pollutants and deposits them into waterways. Contaminants such as chemicals and organic wastes diminish water quality, harm fish and wildlife, damage native vegetation, pollute the municipal water supply and degrade natural recreation areas. You can prevent urban runoff by reducing your use of chemicals, storing chemicals securely, discarding wastes properly and preventing these contaminants from entering waterways and storm drains.

Before you journey to the coast, monitor the water quality forecasts of area beaches, and search for alerts, closures and advisories. The Division of Marine Fisheries of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources issues beach alerts and closures for the North Carolina coast. Choose to visit a beach where water quality is consistently monitored and where water samples do not exceed the national Beach Action Value threshold, which is the Environmental Protection Agency’s most protective benchmark for assessing swimmer safety. If the water appears unclean or has a foul odor, do not swim. Avoid swimming immediately after a heavy rain, when urban runoff is most prevalent. Also, avoid swimming near pollution sources such as pipes, outfalls and ditches.

Do you part to maintain a sanitary beach. Stay out of the water if you are ill to avoid the spread of water-borne illnesses, and avoid beach water if you have open wounds or infections. Use public restrooms. If pets are allowed on the beach, discard pet wastes properly. If you are boating, discharge wastes at a pump station and not in the ocean.

Mind your waste at the beach. Use reusable food and beverage containers instead of plastic containers. Always deposit your litter – including cigarette litter – in designated receptacles, or carry your trash with you. Remember to recycle as much as possible.

Protect coastal habitats by obeying regulations regarding sand dunes, beach grasses and seasonal enclosures. Dunes and beach grasses are the first lines of defense against the erosion that can have devastating effects on coastlines. Seasonal enclosures are often in place to protect nesting or roosting endangered wildlife. While they do temporarily limit beach access, these restrictions ultimately maintain open beaches and prevent permanent closures. In addition, refrain from feeding shore birds.

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Life's a Beach

FOR MORE INFORMATION …

Natural Resources Defense Council Beach Water Quality Report

NCDENR Division of Marine Fisheries Beach Closures and Swim Advisories

THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT …

Waterkeeper Swim Guide


GO GREEN WHILE YOU SPRING CLEAN

Soap

Spring is here! Just as Mother Nature renews the environment, you may be ready to refresh your home. Stay “green” while you spring clean with some simple, sustainable ideas.

  • Repurpose old materials to create new cleaning supplies. For instance, you can use an old toothbrush to clean hard-to-reach places such as corners and crevices. You can also use old clothes, sheets and towels as dust rags and dish cloths.
  • Consider reusable cleaning products. Choose mops, cloths and sponges that you can sanitize in a hot water wash instead of disposable or one-time-use items. Buy cleaning products in concentrated form, and refill bottles of cleaning solutions when possible. All of these methods will save money and reduce waste.
  • Use environmentally friendly cleaners. Create your own environmentally sound cleaners with ingredients commonly found in your kitchen such as white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. If you prefer to purchase cleaners, choose biodegradable or plant-based formulas. Look for certification labels such as Green Seal or EPA Design for the Environment.
  • Replace air fresheners with essential oils. A study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that a majority of common air fresheners contain chemicals known as phthalates. Phthalates can disrupt hormones and cause birth defects. To refresh your home, use essential oils such as lemon, cinnamon, lavender, pine and peppermint.
  • Use house plants to clean the air. House plants can absorb volatile organic compounds in the air and actually thrive on ambient chemicals that are detrimental to humans. Gerbera daisy, Chinese evergreen, English ivy, dracaena, philodendron, weeping fig, moth orchid, golden pothos and areca palm are all effective air filters.
  • Change your air filters every one to three months and clean vents regularly to improve your indoor air quality, reduce the amount of dust in your home and increase the efficiency of your climate control system.
  • Take control of your clutter by parting with items that you no longer need or want. Donate any unwanted items to a charity or resell them at a consignment shop. Or, host a tag sale or a swap. Recycle items that you cannot donate, sell or trade.
  • Do not purchase tools, carpet cleaners and other expensive items. Instead, rent them from a home improvement retailer or Fort Bragg FMWR Equipment Rental.

 

DIY CLEANER RECIPES AND IDEAS …

Green Spring Cleaning Ideas

25 Green Spring Cleaning Tips

Easy Ways to Green Your Spring Cleaning

DIY Cleaning Recipes for the Whole House

67 Homemade, All-Natural Cleaner Recipes

How to Make Your Own Cleaning Products from Good Housekeeping

Green DIY Air Fresheners

Natural Home Deodorizers and Air Fresheners

Build Your Own Oil Diffuser

Using House Plants to Clean the Air

 

RECIPE FOR ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER …

Ingredients

  • Two cups of distilled water
  • One-half cup of distilled white vinegar
  • One teaspoon of pure castile (vegetable-based) soap
  • 20 drops of tea tree essential oil
  • 20 drops of lemon essential oil

Combine all ingredients into a spray bottle and mix thoroughly. Apply to surfaces to be cleaned and then wipe with a damp cloth. This cleaner is safe and effective on a variety of surfaces.