Pills and the Earth: Environmental Steps for Medicine Cabinets-Harvard Health Blog


Most people may not think that pills (or creams, patches, and inhalants) have a significant impact on the environment, but they do.

Climate change is causing significant impacts on the environment and Impact on our healthSuch as the rising incidence of asthma and new forms of infectious diseases. The main driver of climate change is greenhouse gas emissions. Our healthcare system has played an important role, contributing nearly 10% of our country’s greenhouse gases.The United States is also responsible Account for more than 25% of total global medical emissions.

In our healthcare system, medicines and chemicals are Projects with the largest greenhouse gas emissions.In addition, pharmaceutical waste throughout the global supply chain may cause Environmental and animal toxicityAnd in the case of residual antibiotics, Antimicrobial resistance (AKA “Super Error”). In 2018, 5.8 billion prescriptions Full of America.At the same time, consumers spent $34 billion over-the-counter drugs.

Many of these drugs can save lives, and if taken correctly, they will bring us great benefits and a healthier life. But after some thinking, you can take some measures to make your medicine cabinet more environmentally friendly, while keeping your health in the first place.

Minimize waste when buying medicines

less is more. Filling a 90-day supply of medicine can reduce the total cost of each medicine, provide more convenience, and require less packaging. However, in some cases, it makes sense to reduce the number, for example, when you are trying to use a new drug or buying an over-the-counter drug that is not commonly used and is not expected to end before the expiration date.

Do the math. If your doctor recommends that you change the dose, and the mathematical calculations are correct, first consider halving or doubling your current dose. If this works, you can request a new dosage-strength prescription for the next supplement.

Fill it up when you use it. Unless you are going to use prescription drugs, don’t pick up prescription drugs, except for emergency medicine that you should have on hand. If your symptoms worsen or do not improve, you can choose to take the medicine. Please ask your doctor to send the prescription to the pharmacy and inform the pharmacy that you will tell them if they are willing.

Reduce the size of the medicine cabinet

Review the benefits and harms. Bring all prescription and over-the-counter drugs into your appointment and check with your primary care doctor regularly. Make sure that your medication regimen benefits your situation more than harms it. This is especially useful if you see many different doctors prescribing medicine for you. Sometimes people will fall into a waterfall where a drug is added to treat the symptoms of another side effect. But before making any changes, be sure to discuss with your doctor; stopping some medications may be harmful, while others may need to be gradually reduced.

Incorporate lifestyle medicine. Talk with your doctor Lifestyle medicineFocus on healthy habits, such as regular exercise and eating healthy foods to prevent diseases and promote longevity. These lifestyle changes can often help reduce or eliminate the need for medication.

Inhalers: Know your options

Explore options. If you have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), please consult a doctor Your choice applies to the inhaler. Metered-dose inhalers (MDI) use hydrofluoroalkane propellants, which are greenhouse gases, to deliver drugs. Check if there is a dry powder inhaler (DPI) option suitable for you. However, not everyone can use DPI. DPI relies on patients to breathe deeply and quickly to inhale drugs into the lungs. (Therefore, the emergency inhaler used during an asthma attack is usually MDI.) The inhaler you choose also depends on the cost and coverage of the insurance company. Finally, it is important to use the inhaler that is most suitable for you to control your condition.

Dispose of medicines properly

Know when to rinse. Do not pour medicine into the toilet or sink (unless they fall on the toilet) FDA flush list), because it may pollute lakes, rivers, agriculture and drinking water. Read the packaging for any medication disposal instructions. Many pharmacies or local public safety agencies (such as police stations) accept unused medicines and dispose of them safely.National prescription drug recall date is April 24, 2021, so please check Safe collection location beside you.

Some medicines can be discarded in the trash can. First remove the personal identification label, and then mix the medicine with coffee grounds, cat litter or soil in the container. (It is not recommended to use this drug for controlled substances such as opioids and other addictive drugs.) The FDA webpage More information about medication handling.

Health care is a partnership. After careful consideration, we can work together to achieve the best of both worlds-you are healthier and the planet is healthier.


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