Wednesday, November 25, 2020

My short stint as a mule

I discovered two things recently: First, that some Walgreens locations will dispose of your expired or unused prescription or over-the-counter medicines. Second, that I had a lot of unused or expired medicine.

While reorganizing our bathrooms and hall closets, I found all sorts of old cold medicines, pain killers and anti-inflammatories, and toxic opioids that had been prescribed after past surgeries. It was surprising, when amassed together, how much there was. 

Flushing these medicines down the toilet introduces them to our water supply. Similarly, throwing them in the trash not only adds drugs to our soil and water, they can be potentially dangerous to anyone who might otherwise get their hands on them. Nevertheless, the FDA informs that it is possible to flush or throw away unused drugs if a drug take back program is not available. Had I known this, I might not have sought out Walgreens. And, having found Walgreens, I might have paid a little more attention to the information on their website.

Somehow, I got it in my head that the disposal site was nothing more than a cardboard box with markings that identified its purpose. The many reasons that would be a ridiculous idea never occurred to me not the least of which being that anyone could have reached into a cardboard box and taken out a random handful of drugs. Instead, and rightfully so, the box was more like a mailbox with a one-way slot making it possible to deposit but not withdraw. 

Considering I was about to haul in a bag of drugs into a Walgreens - or anywhere else for that matter - I decided to put my thin plastic bag of goodies into a reusable grocery bag thinking that was far more discreet. Again, not considering the obvious reasons for not doing this, I was disappointed that the imagined open-top cardboard box was not prominently displayed by the front door like the RedBox machine. This was not a situation where I could just walk in with a bag of drugs, drop them, and then turn around and leave. No, I had to walk through the store to the back where the mailbox style receptacle was located, near the Pharmacy.

Of course, that makes perfect sense as does the fact that there's always two lines at the Pharmacy. One for ordering, one for pickup. There were only a half dozen people waiting as I made my way to the box. Addressing one gentleman, I stupidly asked if he was waiting. For what, I asked myself later, I don't know. The drug box? Nothing else he might have been waiting for made any difference to my purpose unless he was waiting for a woman with a bag of drugs to walk up looking to give them away as if it was Halloween. 

In any case, he wasn't waiting, so I proceeded with my deposit. One hand being occupied with holding the grocery bag that contained a second bag which contained the drugs, I could make my deposit only with the other hand. I reached for an orange bottle of pills and put it in the slot and heard it rattle to the bottom of an empty metal drum. I reached for the next item. And the next. And the next. (Expired NyQuil makes a particularly loud thump.) At one point a lone, unidentifiable capsule still in its impenetrable bubble wrap fell to the floor and I thought for a split second that I could just ignore it and leave it there but was sure at this point that I had the full attention of anyone who was waiting in line to pay money for some of the drugs I was throwing away while simultaneously wondering how it was a person could have that much to get rid of. 

Instead of pointing out the hypocrisy of my imagined accusers, I scooped up the lone pill and dropped it in the box. I turned to go and thought - perhaps for the first time - that I was damned glad I was wearing a mask.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Toilet paper: Art or political statement?

The bathroom is a place of social and environmental politics. A single company, owned by Koch Industries, controls 29% of the tissue paper market in North America. With the purchase of fluffy, plastic-wrapped, bleach-white rolls, many Americans are unwittingly aiding in the politically-conservative efforts of conglomerates like Koch Industries, which has funneled millions of dollars into voter suppression, the aiding and growth of the Prison Industrial Complex, and the reversal of common-sense environmental protections. "

Seems like a serious statement for an exhibit at the Marta gallery featuring over 50 toilet paper holders