How to Make the Pharmaceutical Industry More Sustainable

The pharmaceutical industry has a substantial impact on the environment, especially when the materials used to make them and the chemicals that comprise make their way directly into the environment. The pharmaceutical industry at large as well as average consumer can take steps to make of use of medicine more sustainable through both significant and relatively minor changes.

pharmaceuticals-impact-environment

Medicines and the Environment

The drugs that we consume naturally enter our environment as our body turns them to waste. This issue becomes exacerbated when people intentionally dispose of unused medicine by flushing it down the drain.

Although our water treatment systems are designed to take contaminants out of our wastewater before we re-introduce to the natural environment, some still get through. These contaminants, which include those in medications, can damage the ecosystems they end up in.

High levels of estrogen in waters due to birth control, for example, can hamper the ability of fish to reproduce, reducing their population size. Once those chemicals find their way into the water, they enter the food chain and eventually impact animals that live on land too, including humans.

Plants will absorb the chemicals from medications. Animals then eat these plants or drink the water and ingest the contaminants. Humans might drink the water or eat the plants or animals, making pollution from pharmaceuticals a human health hazard as well. This problem becomes worse in the summer when livestock such as cattle require two to three times as much water as they do during other times of the year.

Proper Disposal of Medicines

If you have unused medications that you need to get rid of, don’t flush them down the drain or throw them straight into the trash. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends one of several other options for the safe and sustainable disposal of medicines.

Some communities have drug take-back programs that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) approves. Some pharmacies also allow you to mail in or dispose of unused medications at kiosks. The DEA also organizes a national drug take-back day.

Although certain medications have recommendations on the label to flush them, you can dispose of the majority of them in your regular trash at home. The FDA recommends mixing them with something unpalatable such as dirt, kitty litter or coffee grounds in a plastic bag that you can seal. This disguises the drugs and prevents pets from getting into them. You can then throw the bag away.

If you are a throwing away a prescription medication container, be sure to scratch out all potentially identifying information to protect your privacy and identity.

Using Medicines More Sustainably

Another option for reducing the impact your use of medicine has on the environment is to use less of it or use more environmentally friendly medications.

To use less medicine, only use it when you truly need it and try substituting natural remedies for pharmaceuticals. Reach for naturally derived treatments such as essential oils, vitamins, herbs or a cup of hot tea. Always consult with your doctor before changing your medication regimen.

As a long-term strategy, regular exercise and a healthy diet can do wonders in improving your overall health and decreasing your need to take medicines.

Sustainability from the Industry’s Perspective

Of course, making the pharmaceutical industry more sustainable isn’t the sole responsibility of the consumer. The industry can also change its practices to manage pharmaceuticals in a more eco-friendly fashion.

One aspect of this involves energy use. The manufacturing and transportation of medications can be extremely energy-intensive. By using energy more efficiently and using cleaner energy, drug companies can reduce their environmental impact.

Pharmaceutical industry can change its practices to manage pharmaceuticals in a more ecofriendly manner.

These corporations can also make an effort to include more eco-friendly substances in their medications. While they may not be able to remove every non-natural chemical from their products, they can offer greener alternatives to consume and look into reducing the presence of damaging substances as much as possible.

This applies not only to the organizations closest to the consumers but to the entire supply chain.

Medications are often vital to our health, but it can also have a negative impact on the health of our environment. Taking steps to manage pharmaceuticals more sustainably can enable us to protect our own well-being as well as that of our environment.

Recycling: Where to Start in Reducing Your Waste?

Millions and billions of garbage are accumulated every year. In America alone, each individual produces up to 4 pounds of waste material every day. Improper disposal of this garbage is harmful not only to you but also to everyone around you. Waste from landfills can emit greenhouse gases, pollute the soil, and can contaminate your drinking water.

However, in a simple way, such as recycling, you can make a difference. You can recycle your garbage in various ways, including reselling, donating, collecting, manufacturing, etc. Recycling is a lifestyle you can choose that requires a vast amount of dedication and a sense of responsibility.

recycling-waste

Here are some tips and tricks that can help you start your recycling journey.

What  You Can Recycle

First, you need to distinguish what garbage you can and cannot recycle.

Recyclable

  1. Plastic – Any plastic containers and bottles with the recycling symbol, and inside are the numbers 1 or 2.
  2. Paper Products – Items including phonebooks, magazines, mails, newspapers, food boxes, cardboard boxes, and printer paper.
  3. Glass – Objects like food containers, bottles, and jars, which are emptied and rinsed.
  4. Metal – Mainly aluminum cans, steel cans, tin, and other metals as long as it’s also empty and rinsed.

Non-Recyclable

  1. Plastic shopping bags
  2. Plastic food wrappings
  3. Plastic straws and silverware
  4. Foam containers, cups, and egg cartons
  5. Soiled food or biological waste
  6. Broken glasses
  7. Medical waste
  8. Dirty diapers
  9. Ink cartridges
  10. Phones

There are still more items to be included in the list, feel free to read the label or go online for them. It’s good to make it a habit to check if an item is recyclable or not.

Purchase Your Recycling Bins

After knowing what garbage is recyclable and non-recyclable, you can now buy your recycling bins. You can shop in malls or other marketplaces that offer bins in your desired size and shape at affordable prices. Some bins have a recycling logo that would help you to easily distinguish it from your other trash cans.

The basic rule in how many bins you should acquire depends on how many trash cans you have in your household. Also, set up your recycling bins next to your trash cans so that every time you throw an item away, you will be reminded to check if it’s recyclable or not. Remember not to use plastic bags in recycling because they are not recyclable.

Aside from your home, you can also keep recycling bins in your car and your office at work. Wherever you are, you can always sort and recycle your garbage.

Find Your Local Drop-Off Location

Depending on where you live, there may be different rules on what you can recycle and how to prepare your recycled items. Moreover, public drop-off areas are also important information to know together with the local garbage collection schedule.

Some states would allow you to leave your recycled items in the curbside, but if not, be sure to know where the designated areas are so that you can dump your recyclables before garbage collectors pick them up. The collection schedule could either be once a week or once every other week. It wholly depends on where you live.

Be sure to inquire to your local government or information desk about these rules and instructions before you start recycling. Print out the vital information and instructions, and post them somewhere visible so that you can’t forget about them.

Other Actions to Consider

Recycling your garbage helps in reducing your household waste and lowering your carbon footprint. But besides recycling, there are many other activities and practices you can do to help the society and the environment more. Remember to reduce, reuse, and recycle the items in your household instead of immediately throwing them out.

You can avoid buying or using single-use plastics to reduce the waste you produce. Another trick is to use recyclable bags instead of paper and plastic bags. Utilize your jars for your leftovers instead of plastic containers. You can also create your garden fertilizer by using food waste and other compostable garbage to set up a compost pile.

However, for wastes such as expired medicines, one should not, in any way, recycle and reuse expired or unused medicines as they can pose a risk to one’s health and safety. Throwing it anywhere is also harmful to the environment.

There’s a specific disposal process you must follow, which includes mixing the medicine with cat litter or referring to the FDA’s Flush List. Visit BuzzRx to learn more about proper medicine disposal.

Takeover

The way you live can impact the world and the environment. By recycling, you can help lessen waste, conserve resources, and not contribute to the pollution already prevalent in our world. No matter how tedious recycling can be, remember that it will be developed into a good habit that will help improve the society, environment, and especially yourself.