I recently went through my collection of medicine cabinet items, and was amazed at how many things had expired since the last time I checked them. It made me realize that I need to add this as a task to my semi-annual purge list. It also made me think more about things I can do to reduce the waste in this area of my home. So here are my ideas:
Reduce the quantities I purchase – Although I am all for buying quantity when it gets cost down, there is very little chance that I can use 500 tablets of headache medicine before it hits the expiration date. (As my kids get older, I may need that number, but hopefully that is a couple of years away.) So instead, I am buying the more reasonable 100 tablet quantity and pay just slightly more per dosage.
When I was still working in the corporate world, I recall asking a coworker for something for a headache, and he produced a HUGE bottle of a popular brand of pain reliever. I glanced at the expiration date as I was opening it, and it was 5 years out of date. I got the pills, expressed my thanks, and quickly tossed them them away once I returned to my own cubicle. I should have said something.
Check dates before purchase - When you think about it, pharmacies have literally tens of thousands of items to keep up with, and even the best can miss removing OTC products when they near expiration. Check them yourself before you purchase, and avoid having to dispose of them after you get them home.
When you do have to get rid of unusued product, be aware of the following:
Toss it when you no longer need it - You don’t have to wait until something expires to dispose of it. This is especially important in the case of prescription drugs. If you have medicines that were to address a particular condition, and that is no longer something you are dealing with, dispose of it as soon as you can. You not only save the storage space, but you eliminate the risk that someone might mistake that drug for another.
Proper disposal – If you do end up with expired products, follow local guidelines for how and where to dispose of it, and be careful to remove all personal information from the containers beforehand. In this age of identity theft, you don’t want any of that information to end up in the wrong hands.
My name is Lori Fowler, and I am a professional home organizer working in the Winston-Salem area. If you would like professional help in getting your home in order, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 336-978-6211.