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Recycling Can Save Lives

Recycling Can Save Lives

With so much talk about reusing, recycling,†and reducing, one topic you donít hear a lot about is recycling or reusing medical items or equipment.

I have been thinking about this, because over the years, several family members (well mostly my husband) have been injured and temporarily needed things like crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs. We have always either kept these items, or have given them to a friend or family member who might need them.

Although I have donated my old eyeglasses to the Lionís Club International through one of their collection boxes, I started to wonder why I never thought about donating these other items to those who might need them. So I did some exploring on how to do that and hereís what I found out.

First as I mentioned, Lionís Club International collects old eyeglasses that go to those in need both at home and in developing countries. The Lionís Club is a humanitarian group that has focused on helping those in the community since the early 1900s, primarily focusing on projects and programs that help the blind or visually impaired and work to eliminate blindness. They also support projects to control and prevent diabetes and diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of vision loss in adults.

You can drop your old glasses in a collection box near you, contact your local lionís club, or even mail them in. You can find their collection boxes at public locations like libraries, schools, community centers, coffee shops/houses, optometristís offices, and places of worship.

Or, you can ask your optician about recycling your glasses; often they know of places that need them.

The Lionís Club also has a hearing aid recycling program for children and adults.

Aside from glasses and hearing aids, gently used medical equipment and devices that are in good condition are collected by various nonprofit organizations. These include things like walkers, crutches, braces, bandages, wheelchairs, scooters, bath equipment, and more.

If you are wondering where to donate your things, you can donate locally to AIDS support groups, the American Red Cross, schools, animal shelters, veterinarians and to health practitioners who volunteer locally or overseas. In addition, Senior Centers might take them as well as local, free health clinics that help those without health insurance.

If you have a wheelchair you donít need, there are some great wheelchair recycling programs and organizations around. The Wheelchair Foundation lists organizations throughout the country that take donations of used wheelchair equipment. Included on this list are Chariots of Hope and the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which has offices throughout the United States.

One item you might want to get rid of in a more environmentally friendly way is your unused medicine/medication. This is a bit trickier since there are liability issues associated with medicine. There are a couple of places that take specific medications. These include The Health Equity Project, which donates unused medicines.

As their site says, “Unused medicines are put to good use for those who are unable to afford them in developing countries. We always need antibiotics, anti-malarials, pain relievers, and HIV/AIDS anti-retrovirals. Diflucan or flucanazole (used to treat yeast infections) is especially needed.”

Another group that takes unused medicine is Aid for AIDS, but it only takes very specific drugs.

If you want to find out whether you can give your unused medications to agencies in your state, look into your state’s specific donation regulations. Usually if the state allows it there are only specific drugs that can be donated and only unopened medication is accepted.

Read more: Community, Conscious Consumer, Do Good, Health, Life, Make a Difference, , , ,

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Judi Gerber

Judi Gerber is a University of California Master Gardener with a certificate in Horticultural Therapy. She writes about sustainable farming, local foods, and organic gardening for multiple magazines. Her book Farming in Torrance and the South Bay was released in September 2008.


+ add your own
9:08AM PST on Jan 30, 2013

Thank you for sharing this it is true recycling makes a difference at so many levels. Keep doing it :o)

2:23PM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

Thank you

11:28AM PDT on Mar 21, 2011

We always reuse canes and crutches. I never knew about the old eyeglasses, but I will have to remember this. Very great info! Thanks.

5:09PM PST on Mar 12, 2011

great info

8:53PM PST on Mar 8, 2011

Thanks it's very good to know that unused meds can be donated. However how many of us have unopened meds? We may get a script for a med that doesn't work for us,. but since they have been opened the only thing we can do with them is trash them. How many people have unopened meds? None!!

6:51AM PST on Mar 8, 2011


2:41AM PST on Mar 6, 2011

Some useful advice Thanks.

11:07PM PST on Mar 5, 2011


12:20AM PST on Mar 5, 2011

I've recycled glasses at opticians and re-use prescription med containers. Those who flush their pills down the toilet - just think of all those six-legged or two-headed frogs ...... Return them to your pharmacy rather............

12:31PM PST on Mar 3, 2011

Not according to John Boehner, his new sloagan is PLASTIC IS BACK! Way to go and while you are poluting the soil and water we drink, keep smoking away and polute more of the air we breathe. Boehner is no friend of the environment , but I guess we already knew that. You want to make a balanced budget , but not a cleaner and less toxic environment for our children and grndchildren to live in. Again way to go John!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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