Lileks: Disposing of drugs the green way

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 3, 2012 - 6:22 PM

Starting Monday, Hennepin County will take those drugs off your hands at three drop-off centers. No questions asked.

Perhaps you're regretting the turn your life has taken, and you'd like to get that 50-gallon drum of meth precursors off your hands. Pouring it down the john seems environmentally irresponsible; there are crocodiles in the sewer who might become meth addicts. And they have so many teeth to lose.

No. That's not it. They'll take legal drugs, like the Vicodin left over from a particularly incandescent episode of dental agony. One pill left. You don't need it. You don't take it. But you keep it around in case you're oiling the chainsaw while it's on, and it slips.

They also take unwanted vitamins. "Unwanted vitamins" sounds sad, as if there should be a telethon. Millions of fish oil capsules are neglected in cupboards all across America. Won't you help?

We all have a bottle of 500 horse-pills you discovered couldn't be swallowed unless you coated them with mineral oil and had someone use a slingshot to shoot them down your throat. Tablets stuffed with so much iron and zinc that you clanked when you sneezed. Those 50,000-unit vitamin C tablets that make oranges follow you around like ducklings, calling you Mama.

Up until this minute, you probably threw them away. But this is wrong. As the county's website explains, "Medicines flushed down the drain or disposed of in the trash can contaminate bodies of water, harm wildlife and end up in drinking water supplies."

Really? I ain't no waste-water specialist with no fancy book-learnin', but I can Google, and the Met Council's Environmental Services site says they handle about 260 million gallons of waste water per day. Doesn't seem likely that deer are going to start falling asleep because someone poured three expired teaspoons of Nyquil down the drain. But I defer to the county's wisdom.

We don't want to dump our excess calcium pills into the environment, lest the mosquitoes develop a taste and evolve accordingly. We'll miss the days when they just wanted your blood and couldn't care less about your teeth.

Man! That hurt! Where's the Vico- ...

Oh. Right.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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