You peruse the store shelves for the perfect vitamin, then stroll over to the pharmacy counter to pick up your prescription. You have a headache, so you grab a bottle of ibuprofen on your way to the checkout. You pay the cashier as he tosses all of these items into a plastic bag, and you’re on your way. One single shopping trip revolves nearly entirely around plastic. Plastic is great, you say to yourself. Look how many uses it has. But in a world that is rapidly accumulating more waste than it can bear, the focus needs to be shifted from single to multiple use.
But now you’re thinking to yourself that you can recycle everything that you just purchased. But can you? And will you? Just like the plastic bottle tops that have to be removed from soda containers, many prescription and vitamin bottles do not belong in your recycling bin. A vast majority of these containers are made by a different process than most other plastic materials. They are more durable, but also require a different melting point than other plastics, and therefore won’t be recycled by a majority of centers. Check with your local recycling center to see if indeed they do recycle vitamin and pill bottles that come bearing the #1 and #2 markings.
Keep this in mind. The next time you hit the store, check for recyclable products. Many companies now specify that they are recyclable, while also including the numeric symbol, as that symbol does not always guarantee its place in the recycling bin. Also, buy products that are made from recycled plastic, so that you know that you are at least helping to promote recycled material on some level. Try to get the most use out of your products as possible. Use empty pill bottles for storing small items like paperclips and sewing supplies. Also, check with local churches as they often collect pill bottles to send to third world countries that could utilize them. Even check with local veterinarians, who often use these empty pill bottles. You can always find a second use for the products that you purchase. Plastic lumber manufacturers have developed an industry specifically revolving around reused and recycled plastic. Look into it. Try your hand at the three R’s…Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.