While everyone’s illness is unique, there’s one thing every person with chronic pain has in common – an endless supply of pill bottles.
Many people simply toss them in the trash after they’re empty. But there are actually a number of easy ways to recycle – and considering that per the CDC, nearly half of all Americans have used at least one prescription medication within the last month, this is particularly important.
First of all, check the markings on the bottom of the container and also the guidelines for plastic recycling in your community. Some, but not all, local recycling programs will accept prescription pill bottles. There are also programs such as Preserve’s Gimme 5 (https://www.preserve.eco/pages/gimme5-overview) which collect prescription pill bottles made with #5 plastic. Preserve partners with Whole Foods, so hundreds of their stores accept used pill bottles, or you can mail them to the address on the above website.
There are also some pharmacies (primarily small independent ones) which allow patrons to reuse their prescription bottles for refills. Others, such as Walgreens, have kiosks in some states which allow used prescription drop-offs.
Next, you may want to consider donating the containers to an organization who reuses them. There are nonprofits such as Matthew 25: Ministries (https://m25m.org/pillbottles/) who collect both prescription and over-the-counter pill bottles for use in developing countries, where medication is often distributed in any available container, even a scrap of paper.
Some veterinary clinics and animal shelters may accept pill containers as well.
If for some reason you can’t or don’t want to go with either of these options, there are a myriad of ways you can repurpose the containers! There are loads of blog posts and Pinterest images to get your mind headed in the right direction. Some of the easiest and most commonly listed include:
- Instead of wasting money on travel-size bottles of shampoo or lotion, pour some from home into old prescription bottles.
- Tuck a spare key into a larger bottle, glue a rock to the top and stick into the ground. Just be sure you can identify the rock later!
- If you’re into a creative hobby, these small containers are just the right size to organize beads, cake piping tips or other tiny, easily lost pieces.
- If you have kids, use containers to keep tiny toys, such as Barbie shoes or Lego accessories, from getting lost.
- Are you a gardener? Keep seeds in a bottle.
- Are you into cooking with herbs? Keep them dry and easily identifiable in bottles.
- Make a mini sewing kit for your purse, car or office! The bottle is just the right size for a few safety pins, needles and lengths of thread.
- Similarly, you can make a mini first aid kit, with a few bandages, alcohol wipes, ibuprofen and other items.
- Pill bottles are perfect for various beauty-related needs, such as storing bobby pins.
- Going camping? These containers are waterproof, so they are great for storing matches.
- Have a dog? Store your poop bags in a larger container. You can even pierce the lid and add a metal key chain.
- Instead of letting your spare change rattle around the car’s cupholder, use a pill bottle to keep it tidy. Next time you’re at a drive-thru, you’ll have it right at hand.
- To keep your earbuds from getting tangled, store them in a bottle.
- Add some dried beans or rice, and voila! Instant cat toy.
- Some people suggest using pill containers for small food products, such as salad dressing in a lunch bag. This is not generally advised, as even a well-washed pill container may still retain traces of the original medication, and it may be confusing to young children who see it.
Have you repurposed your prescription pill containers in a different way? Let us know!