Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life
July 2016 – Vol. 15 No. 6

The things you own end up owning you. ~ Chuck Palaniuk (Fight Club)

How (and why) to properly dispose of medicine

Whenever I’m asked about how to declutter, inevitably I’m asked, “Where’s the best place to start?” I often recommend starting with a small project like cleaning out your medicine cabinet.

If you’re like most people, you hang on to unused and expired prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines because you don’t know how to safely and responsibly dispose of medicine and unwanted drugs.

The ideal way to dispose of medicine is to look for an authorized collection center which might be your local pharmacy or a hospital or clinic pharmacy. Local law enforcement agencies may also offer a take-back program.

Additionally, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sponsors the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Make a note on your calendar that this annual take-back event falls on October 22 this year. Keep your eyes and ears open for news of this program in your area.

No take-back program in your area? You can safely dispose of medicine in your household trash. Pour liquids into a sealable plastic bag and mix with dirt, kitty litter, or coffee grounds. Do the same with medicines in pill or capsule form, adding water to dissolve. Then dump the sealed bag in your household trash.

NOTE: Be sure to keep your personal information safe. Before recycling the bottle, remove the label or scratch off your name, doctor’s name and Rx number.

When you properly dispose of medicine, you help prevent accidental poisoning of children and pets. It also limits the chance of you taking the wrong medication or one that is ineffective. And it keeps drugs from leaching into our rivers, streams, and other sources of drinking water.

DO NOT flush medications unless directed to do on the label or instructions which may be the case for chemo drugs and fentanyl pain patches. Click here for a list of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing.

Ironically, the main reason why drug residues are being found in our water systems is not because people are flushing them, but because they are being excreted by our own bodies! Raanan Bloom, Ph.D., an environmental assessment expert at the Food & Drug Administration, says, “Many drugs are not completely absorbed or metabolized by the body and can enter the environment after passing through wastewater treatment plants.” Scary, isn’t it?

One final caution about medicines: According to Safe Kids Worldwide, in 2012, more than 64,000 kids were treated in an emergency room for medicine poisoning. That’s one child every eight minutes. In three out of four of these cases, the medicine belonged to a parent or grandparent.

  • Keep all medicine up and away when young children are around – even medicine you take every day.
  • Be alert to medicines stored in other locations, like pills in purses, vitamins on counters, and medicines in or on nightstands. 
  • Store children’s medicine in an out-of-reach place, including between doses.
  • Choose child-resistant caps for medicine bottles, if you’re able to. If pill boxes or non-child resistant caps are the only option, it’s even more important to store these containers high and out of sight when caring for kids.

What I learned over my summer vacation…

While in Portland last month, I attended a two-day carpet cleaning technician’s class that you would agree was very interesting if you’re a cleaning geek like me.

Did you know…?

  • Leading carpet manufacturers like Shaw and Mohawk will invalidate your carpet warranty if you do not have your carpets cleaned regularly by an approved carpet cleaner.
  • Wool carpets can hold up to one pound of soil per square foot.
  • Decaf coffee stains are harder to remove then caffeinated coffee stains because decaf coffee has dye added to it during processing
  • Pouring salt or cat litter on a red wine spill may effectively absorb the wine and make the stain disappear (or you can try removing with white wine or vodka but only if that is the FIRST stain removal method you attempt).
  • There’s a Seal of Approval program for vacuums and stain removing products that you should check out before you buy.

Favorite products and resources

As a professional organizer and certified House Cleaning Technician, I’ve used and recommended a lot of products, services and resources over the years. Every month in this column, I share new and old favorites.

Last month, I told you about the really well-designed kitchen organizers I discovered at kitchen organizersthe National Hardware Show last month. YouCopia makes an innovative line of products designed to maximize space in even the tiniest of kitchens.

YouCopia’s Classic Spice Stack lets you store up to 24 full size bottles (or 48 half-size bottles) in a set of three drawers. kitchen organizersHello, easy spice organizing!  I also love YouCopia’s Store More Shelf Riser. What makes this shelf riser different from any other I’ve seen is that the legs are adjustable. So you can customize it to your needs. Keep your eye out for this shelf riser…it will be coming soon to a store near you.

Check out the full line of YouCopia kitchen organizers here, including adjustable pot lid organizers, coffee pod organizers, food wrap organizers and more.

sellshipbooksThis month, I want to give you a good reason to pare down your overflowing book collection – extra cash! SellBackBooks is one of the options I recommend in my book How to Declutter and Make Money Now.

From what I understand, now is one of the best times to sell books because they need books for the upcoming fall semester. My contact at SellBackBooks says they are paying “ridiculous prices” for some books because they don’t have enough for the back-to-school rush. They also say they buy more old editions than anyone else.

What I love about SellBackBooks (and the reason why I recommend this company) is because in addition to paying some of the highest prices for books, they make it easy to get an instant quote. Just download their app for Android or iPhone and you can scan the barcode of each book instead of manually entering those long ISBN codes. What have you got to lose? Give it a whirl, free up some shelf space, and pocket some extra cash. They even pay for shipping and offer direct deposit! Click here to get started.

Shameless promotion: I did it!

On my birthday this year, I made a wish and pledged to raise $250 and ride 250 miles in the Great Cycle Challenge to help fight kid’s cancer. Getting the miles in proved challenging but I managed to squeak out my last 12 miles on June 30. And I’m proud to announce that I raised more than $900 for the cause.

Also in June, I was asked to write these guest blog posts you might enjoy reading:

And I was interviewed for this terrific Reader’s Digest article on signs that your house is stressing you out and for this post about household chores you should stop doing that was published on Trulia’s blog.

crescentbarWe spent the month of June in Oregon and will be in the beautiful state of Washington for all of July. We’re currently parked on the banks of the Columbia River near Quincy, Washington. But come August 1, we’ll be on the move again.

Maybe we can meet up somewhere along the way! I’ve been known to give tours of our home on wheels and chat about what it’s like to downsize from 3,500 square feet to 350 square feet. I’m also open to doing a brown bag lunch talk at your workplace or perhaps speak to a local group or organization.

We’re still undecided about our exact route but in August, we plan to make our way across northern Idaho (we’ll be in Coeur d’Alene the first week of August) to the Grand Tetons in Montana. Then we’ll continue east through southern Montana into Wyoming and down the eastern side of Colorado. We know for sure that we will be in Colorado Springs over Labor Day weekend.

From Colorado Springs, we’ll continue south into northern New Mexico with a stop in Santa Fe for sure and then to Albuquerque where we will crew for our favorite hot air balloon team at the annual fiesta there. Once that event is over, we’ll hightail it to San Diego where we will spend the rest of the year.

I realize that’s all pretty vague – such is the life of a full-time traveler – but if you think we might be passing through your town (or you can tell us why we should!), please comment below.

That’s all for this month. Until next month, keep it simple.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Some links in this organizing tips newsletter may be affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, I will earn a small commission. These earnings go toward the continuation of this complimentary newsletter which is free to you, but does cost to distribute. Please know that I only recommend products that I would recommend whether I got paid or not.