Archive for the "medical" category

How can I reuse or recycle Strepsils “handy tubes”?

Hey team. Apologies for the lack of a post on Friday – I was ill with my second cold of 2011 (which, given it was only the 7th of Jan, I thought was pretty good/bad going. I’m in the constant coughing stage now, such fun.) I spent the whole day in bed wishing I could get a sinus transplant – only momentarily distracted by the new DEFRA 2009-2010 recycling stats by area report – numbers are the best medicine ;)

Those who know that Strepsils are a vaguely medicinal lozenge for sore throats will probably be able to see that the inspiration for this post came from my sick bed.

For years, they’ve been sold in blister packs but now you can get them in plastic “handy tubes” too. I would imagine that the tubes use more packaging per tablet than the blister packs but they seem considerably easier to reuse, and reuse often, than blister packs.

The tubes are sturdy plastic, just less than 2cm/an inch in diameter and about 10cm/5ins long. The lid pops off but re-seals securely – the new camera film canister, perhaps?

The tube I’ve got smells strongly of “honey & lemon” so I’m not sure I’d want to use it for food items in the first instance but it would be perfect in a sewing kit – somewhere to keep needles, buttons or other small fastenings, or even a whole emergency kit for carrying in a handbag. As the top’s seal feels at least water-tight, it would probably be great for taking small quantities of shampoo or conditioner (etc) when travelling.

Any other suggestions?

How can I reuse or recycle body jewellery?

We’ve had an email from Toni:

Do you know of any charities that collect used body piercing jewellery? Everyone seems to want gold and these aren’t gold they’re steel. Your earring suggestions don’t apply either because they’re ring and bars.

Marie Curie’s jewellery recycling scheme claims to accept anything – real or costume, broken or working – so I would have thought from a melt-it-down-for-scrap point of view, they’d accept them.

I’ve heard of some body piercers reusing barbells – they have to sterilised them anyway before use and some items are only used for a couple of weeks before being replaced (for example, borrowing from my own experience, the longer bars used for the few swollen weeks after tongue piercings). But I’d be dubious about that, even sterilised, because of how even small nicks & scratches on the jewellery can increase the risk of infection.

Any better reuses or definite recycling ideas for barbells and CBRs (captive bead rings)? What about plugs and tunnels? Anyone done any fun upcycling/repurposing with them?

How can I reuse or recycle old vitamin tablets?

We’ve had an email from Andi:

Can I Compost vitamin tablets? I have two jars in date but have gone moist from the air. What can I do with the bottles?

We’ve covered pill bottles already on the site but the vitamin question is a good one – and I’m not sure of the answer. I suspect it might be “best not”. We’re instructed to always dispose of expired medicines very carefully to avoid risk to the public/wild animals, and to avoid contamination of the environment/water supply. While dietary supplements are generally a lot more benign, there is still some risk, for example, iron can be surprisingly toxic to children, and presumably small animals. I’m not suggesting that many children will hunt around in your compost bin for a feast of pills but the payoff doesn’t really seem worth the risk. I may be wrong though.

I’m also not sure if there will be many reuses for them…

Any suggestions for stopping them going soggy in the first place?

How can I reuse or recycle medical supplies/packaging?

We’ve had an email from friend of Recycle This and frequent commenter Bobbie:

I’m attaching a photo of a medication shipment I get every 3 months. The medicine has to be refrigerated and so that in itself creates all this waste. Please ignore the bookmark though, it is used to cover some private information. The syringe does not have ml markings on it, so I can’t use it for other things that have to be measured.

Of course, I want to know everyone’s idea(s) of how I can repurpose all this packaging into something useable. I already use the styrofoam boxes for other things and given many away, but frankly the size inside is pretty small 6″Wx8″Lx6″D (about 15cmWx20cm Lx15cmD) and can’t hold anything but tiny bottled drinks. I have used it as a lunch pail though.

Many creative people read your blog and I can’t wait for their ideas to pour in. I really like the useful ideas. Thank you very much and hugs to you for all the wonderful posts.

(Click on the picture to see a bigger version.)

My first idea for the styrofoam was a mini-cool box for picnics but it sounds like they might be too small to be much good for that — and how many of those would you need anyway? Any other suggestions?

A syringe could be used for refilling hand cream/moisturiser tubes from bigger tubes (as we discussed here) or tabasco sauce bottles – but again, you’d only need one or two for that – so what can be done with the rest?

How can I reuse or recycle breathing machine parts?

We’ve had an email from Dee, who first asked if it’s ok for people from the US to ask questions (it sure is!), then explained:

I currently use a CPAP machine and Medicare replaces the parts fairly frequently and I am unsure what to do with the “old” parts. I mean, I know some people may have a “problem” with recycling/reusing breathing type supplies but I hate just throwing the items away when perhaps they could be sterilized and used by someone who can’t afford the supplies and may otherwise suffer with sleep apnea.

Disposable plastic medical equipment (rather than sterilisable metal) really grinds my gears but from what I’ve read, this doesn’t seem to be just throwing something away for the sake out it – CPAP machine parts seem to need replacing due to wear and tear, which reduces efficiency and you don’t really want to reduce efficiency of something that is keeping you oxygenated.

However, the second part of Dee’s question is interesting – anyone know of any organisations that collect such medical equipment? The parts might be replaced periodically whether they actually need replacing or not, just to be on the safe side, but an expert might deem them to still be reusable.

What about recycling such items? My first port of call would probably be to contact the supplier & manufacturer of the parts but does anyone have any other suggestions?

(Photo of typical CPAP mask by JoJoJo04)