How can I reuse or recycle birth control boxes?

Birth control containerWe had an email from Tamara last month that got buried in my inbox but I found it again so here it is:

I wanted suggestions on how to recycle pill boxes… like the kind you get with birth control.

I thought I could use one as a wallet, but you see, twelve a year for an indefinite number of years, and a wallet just isn’t going to be a good enough idea for very long. Any suggestions?

I’ve never taken the pill myself (because I can’t take any pills without choking – very annoying but all in my head) but unless US television has lied to me over the years, in the US at least, they come in clam-shell shaped containers which help you keep track of the days. And all americans live in giant mansions or on ranches. And everyone’s problems are solved at neatly after 30 minutes.

So any suggestions for the clam-shells? I’d be tempted to use them to hold beads but suspect every time I opened the clasp they’d go flying across the room – and while that would be funny the first three or four times…

(In the UK, I believe the pilles usually come in blister packs with the days written around the edge. On a related note, we’ve also featured plastic pill and vitamin bottles in the past too.)

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29 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle birth control boxes?”

  1. Could you decorate them and make wallets for everyone? (Think Christmas gifts.

    I think they may work for small objects if you don’t overfill them. (Think rubber bands and stuff like that.)

  2. Nicole says:

    Maybe as an ironic “Congratulations on your new baby” card?

  3. Alice says:

    Could you possibly ask your pharmacist to give you a brand that doesn’t come so over-packaged? They all give the days of the week on the blister packs, and if that doesn’t remind you then I don’t quite see how an enormous plastic clam shell thing is likely to help.

    How about returning all the ones you have so far to the manufacturers with a complaint about over-packaging?

  4. Elouise says:

    Why not consider swapping to the IUD? It lasts for four years and one tiny piece of trash, at the end of the day. Much more environmentally friendly, although of course, not everybody is well suited to it.

  5. Tamara says:

    mine are rectangular, but they are held together in the back, with a plastic hinge-type-thing, similar to the way a clamshell is…

    the biggest difficulty is that there are twenty-eight pill-sized holes in the back… because you punch them through from the inside…

  6. bookstorebabe says:

    I could see adding a mirror and making a nice compact. Or filling with solid perfume.
    It’s funny, the hinged shape reminds me of a locket. Rather large for that, but maybe as a photo frame?

  7. Tamara says:

    great ideas! thanks!

  8. Peggy says:

    Mine is also a rectangle with 28 holes in the back —

    Fill it with felt and use as a pin cushion.

  9. I think all the ideas here are great, but I agree with contacting the manufacturer and trying to get them to reduce their packaging. I had a friend who went to India. When she came back, she said she couldn’t believe how much packaging we wasted in the US. Every time you buy clothing, it’s usually wrapped in tissue paper, with a sticker, in a bag, with a box if you need it.

    Dagny McKinley
    organic apparel

  10. trish says:

    while the pill is the only freebie you can get at the clinic, you may want to consider the nuvaring. it’s a plastic ring that you insert (can’t recycle it though) and you only use one per month. statistically it’s as effective as the pill. perhaps when you’re out of uni and paying for your own, it’ll become your BC of choice.

  11. meh says:

    mine only as one small hole in the back, i use one for carrying around an assortment of drugs, ie. pain killers, allergy medicine, ect. but that only uses one

  12. Tamara says:

    i used the nuva ring before the pill, and i loved it…but then they stopped funding for it, it’s too expensive…

    sorry for being ignorant… what is uni?

    medicine/healthcare is so expensive here, most employers don’t offer it… and it’s ridiculously expensive to get health insurance otherwise… i have two jobs, (neither is full-time, just 40 hrs a week together) but i still qualify for reproductive health benefits…

    because i’m unmarried and don’t make enough to support a child…

    which means the gov’ would be responsible for foodstamps, possibly welfare, finding and suing daddy for child support, medical while i was prego, medical for the baby til he/she is eighteen…

    they’d prefer to pay for pills…

    but not the nuva ring
    which was easier
    and had less packaging.

    i just graduated from college w/a b.a.
    maybe i’ll find a better job (ha)

    then i can make better decisions about my reproductive/environmental health.

    sorry so long and sort of off-topic…

    • louisa says:

      Tamara – uni = university, college

      Staying off topic but what the hey – whenever this discussion comes up, it makes me really appreciate the NHS. My coil, which lasts five years, apparently costs the NHS £90 and is completely free for me*. A quick google suggests to someone in the US it would be about $700 for the coil and about $400 for the fitting. I really, really heart the NHS.

      * directly, I mean. I obviously pay for the NHS through my taxes etc.

  13. Justine says:

    Not sure if packaging is different in the UK than in the US, but in the US, although pharmacies or clinics usually give you a new plastic container each month, if you ask them not to, they won’t.. that way you can reuse the same each month and avoid having to find recycling solutions for all of the extras!

  14. Cat says:

    My friend gave me some of her old ones (mine come in these little vinal (can’t spell that word) pouches) and i covered the holes with a little glue, tin foil, then paper; then decorated them and gave them back to my friend who uses them to hold her small earings, thin cord necklaces, spare change, cut down photos, lip gloss, condoms when she’s going out (hey it prevents pregnancy but not stds … not sure sometimes about her, but what can you do?) and like a thousand other old things.

    So anyway, with a little work all holes can be covered and things worked out. Personally I like the thin necklaces one since they’re a pain in the butt to keep untangled.

  15. Gulia says:

    Write the name of the plant (with permanent marker) on a lid and place next to that plant.

    Write alphabet on them, or glue letters so a child can learn ABC.

    Carry round makeup sponge in it.

  16. Gulia says:

    Cushion with fabric and store your needles.

  17. Ashleigh says:

    I would recommend you make an air freshener. If you stick a folded up dryer sheet inside, the scent will come out the holes and you won’t get that waxy stuff on your towels or underwear (depending on where you decide to keep it) I would put it in my sock drawer or inside my shoes maybe.

  18. Katie says:

    The DialPak tablet dispenser (light pink clamshell) is used for OrthoTricylclen Lo.

    I just phoned the company and spoke to 2 very polite representatives. I was able to place a product complaint regarding the packaging. However it is not likely the company will take note from just one complaint. To call Janssen use the number below. I also listed the address so we could mail our extra clamshells back along with a letter to reinforce our complaint.

    Janssen Medical Information can be reached by phone at 1-800-JANSSEN
    (1-800-526-7736), 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (ET), Monday through Friday.

    Janssen Healthcare Learning Center
    1125 Trenton-Harbourton Road
    P.O. Box 200
    Titusville, NJ 08560

  19. carol says:

    Okay, thank you Katie for the info, I have called them but they didnt reply, so i wrote a letter: (by the way, everyone here should unite and send your letters or call them to complain, we all benefit from this, it’s gonna be cheaper and greener)
    “Hi,me and my friends take the pill and we have lots of plastic dial paks, this is such a huge environmental waste, you guys should set up a way of just giving the dialpaks when requested, I have been using the same one for years, can you do the math of how many i got in a 3 years space?, 36, and same with my friends, now think about 80 million women worldwide that take the pill, this is crazy. Please let me know if there is anything i can do about this, i would like to help.”

    sent to:Janssen Healthcare Learning Center
    1125 Trenton-Harbourton Road
    P.O. Box 200
    Titusville, NJ 08560

  20. carol says:

    you can also write to Jhonson&Johnson by email

  21. Birgit says:

    Great idea ladies of writing to the manufacturer!

    I take the Levora pill from Watson, and I called them right away to make a complaint of this environmental waste.

    This is the phone number in case you want to give them a call: 800-272-5525 and the email address if you want to send them an email:

    I also asked them if they can make a case that has nice decorations on them…. when I leave my dial pak on the countertop everyone knows it’s my birth control pill!

    So, a nice packaging, and upon request should be nice, right?


  22. Chus says:

    Tiny watercolor set

  23. Lucy says:

    I will buy your birth control dialpaks, but it will only be worth it to buy a lot because I live in the states. If you would like to make a deal please contact me. Thank you! Lucy

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