After I collected my expired pills — prescription and over the counter — this morning, I had about 35-40% more shelf space! For years, I’ve let these unwanted pharmaceuticals collect dust because there isn’t a good disposal mechanism. Flushing them or putting them in the trash are verboten! Discarding them through this method is harmful to the environment and the health of humans and other creatures.
Most wastewater facilities do not have the capability of removing pharmaceuticals during the waste treatment process, so any drugs flushed down the toilet or drain can end up back in our drinking water. Antibiotics and hormonal drugs (e.g., birth control pills) have been found in surface water throughout the United States. Their presence is blamed for sexual changes in fish and the increasing resistance of infections to antibiotic treatment. Putting medicines in the trash is no better. Animals or humans may find and ingest them. Once the drugs make it to landfills, they can wind up in our drinking water supply.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has initiated a “Don’t Flush” campaign to inform consumers of the danger of improper disposal. Many municipalities are offering collections – George and I went to Ithaca’s today to discard my expired medicines. If you are unable to take advantage of a safe and supervised collection, put your unwanted medicine in a closed container with an undesirable substance like cat litter or coffee grounds and tape it securely.
This is so wrong. Did you know that BP segregated liability for the Gulf Coast Oil Spill so that only its subsidy BP Exploration and Production is liable for claims made resulting from the disaster? And that this subsidy is comprised of Gulf coast interests that rely on off-shore drilling? Did you know that BP has spent over $90 million dollars – or over $5 million a week – on advertising since the spill? And that is three times the amount of its advertising budget for the same period in 2009? Did you know that the judge who overturned the Obama Administration’s ban on off-shore drilling has extensive ties to and financial interests in the oil and gas industry? You must know by now we don’t have the technology to solve leaks in deep-water drilling. At the minimum, drilling should be banned until the technology for repairing the destruction catches up with the technology that causes it.
BP is going to slink away without taking true responsibility for the human, animal, and environmental devastation wrought due to their poor management and atrocious safety culture that led to the disaster. I’d like Bobby Jindal and other proponents of off-shore drilling to have spent a week living on a dinghy in the gulf two months ago. I’d like them to have had to bury the over 5,000 birds, 500 sea turtles, and 80 mammals killed in the wake of the spill. Maybe then they wouldn’t be so keen on inviting another disaster to the gulf.
But, as suggested by this website, we should put the spill in perspective. Here’s the size compared to my current city, Ithaca:
Photo by Jo Goldmann, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
After writing my last post, I decided I needed to remind folks how strongly and vehemently I oppose drilling in ANWR. Often, the knee-jerk response to the $4.00/gallon gas is to call for more domestic production and drilling in ANWR or off-shore. Neither of these approaches is the solution to our dependence on oil–our dependence on oil is the problem. As the article “ANWR is Not the Answer” outlines, oil is a declining resource, and there is little we can do to adjust the supply. Instead, we must focus on the demand. Simply, we must use less oil.
When I was working in publishing, I met a guy named Christian at the trade shows I went to for work. At the time, Christian lived in Brooklyn and commuted to Manhattan by bike. He said something that has stuck with me for years… He talked about being annoyed with friends or coworkers who called, late to appointments or work, because they were stuck “in traffic.” Christian scoffed, “They aren’t in traffic. They are traffic!” I thought that was so brilliant–we do think of traffic as being apart from us, something we can’t control, not something that we actually create. Well, we have got to stop being traffic and look for other transportation alternatives.
Furthermore, drilling in ANWR would have little effect on the current energy crisis, something we’ve known for as many as four years. Any oil from ANWR would not be on the market for 10 years, and then, that oil may ultimately decrease the cost of gas by just ONE CENT per gallon. Destroying ANWR for a measly cent per gallon? It’s just not worth it.
Defenders of Wildlife explains how drilling in ANWR would affect the wildlife who depend on the area:
- The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the largest wildlife refuge in the United States, encompasses 19 million acres and provides habitat to a diverse array of wildlife including millions of migratory birds, caribou, three species of bears (polar, grizzly and black bears), wolves, Dall sheep, muskoxen, arctic and red foxes, wolverines, plus many more. The nearby continental shelf provides the coastal waters with a rich nutrient base, which in turn supports a variety of marine mammals including the endangered bowhead whale.
- The Arctic Refuge contains one of the most fragile and ecologically sensitive ecosystems in the world. It represents the only protected area in the world that includes an intact arctic, subarctic, and boreal ecosystem, thus retaining the natural dynamics that have existed for thousands of years. The Arctic environment is extremely vulnerable to long-lasting disturbance because the harsh climate and obviously short growing seasons allow species that have been harmed little time to recover.
- The proposed oil and gas development would occur on the 1.5-million acre coastal plain found along the Beaufort Sea. This area is the most sensitive in the entire refuge and habitat loss that occurs here will impact the entire Arctic Refuge. The coastal plain habitat within the Arctic Refuge is also unique from other regions of the North Slope of Alaska because it is relatively narrow (only 15-40 miles across), limiting the alternatives for animals using these areas.