“Plants for Pills” teaches safe medication disposal

Creating a nation that works together to promote sustainability and fight against drug abuse starts with everyone doing their part to help the cause. 

Student Life, the Alcohol and Other Drugs Program and the University Police Department all hosted “National Medication Take Back Day: Plants for Pills” on Saturday Oct. 28. National Medication Take Back Day is held in many towns across the United States. At Geneseo’s event, anyone who attended and handed in their unused medications was given a plant in return. 

“What we’re doing is we’re technically trading medicine for plants,” communication major senior Eunisha Tucker said. “The point of it is to get people to turn in any unwanted, unused or expired medicine so that we can properly dispose of it. And we’ll give out info sheets to show them how to properly dispose of medicine.”

This event took medications and disposed of them in a safe, proper manner. Most people do not realize that there are specific ways to handle unused medications, which contribute to health and environmental issues throughout the country. 

There were 255,732 medicines that were misused in 2007, according to the Plants for Pills event flyer. It also states that there have been over 100 different pharmaceuticals found in water in the U.S., affecting about 41 million Americans.

“Not a lot of people know about the proper medicine disposal techniques, and that’s what we are trying to educate people on,” communication and economics double major senior Julia DePillo said. “They think they can just throw it away or flush it down the toilet, but if you’re throwing it away, that has potential for someone to take it out of the trash and use it if they’re not supposed to.”

DePillo emphasized not only the health requirements of responsible drug disposal, but also the environmental factors at play. 

“Then there’s the sustainability aspect, with the pharmaceuticals being found in our drinking water,” DePillo said. “You think there’s a little impact, but it’s the little things that add up, that actually add to the problem.”

The Plants for Pills event had particular resonance given the rapid rise in opioid abuse. In October, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency, according to CNN. 

Trump explained that to combat the crisis, his proposed border wall—between the U.S. and Mexico—must be constructed, to lower the number of illegal drugs entering the country. Trump also suggested a campaign to advertise the negative effects of using illegal drugs as a preventative measure against addiction, according to CNN

“As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue. It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction,” Trump said during an Oct. 26 press conference, as reported by CNN. “We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic. We can do it.”

Events like the National Medication Take Back Day and Plants for Pills are small steps toward combatting the addiction crisis. 

“I think that programs like this create awareness of the problem that most people don’t take enough thought into or don’t think of it as that much of an issue, in our country especially,” DePillo said. “No other country has a problem this bad. So just creating awareness is where it starts to solve the problem, and I think this event really starts doing that on college campuses.”

Students can also drop off unwanted pharmaceuticals in secure drop boxes located at the Geneseo Sheriff’s Office on Court Street.u

 Pathways peer advocate and Alcohol and Other Drugs advocate senior Harrison Moses, AOD program coordinator Sarah Covell and Department of Student Life interns for sustainability seniors Julia Depillo and Eunisha Tucker helped at the “National Medication Takeback Day: Plants for Pills” event on Saturday Oct. 28 (pictured above left to right). Attendees had the opportunity to get rid of unwanted perscription medication safely and receive a plant in return. (Annalee Bainnson/Photo Editor)

Pathways peer advocate and Alcohol and Other Drugs advocate senior Harrison Moses, AOD program coordinator Sarah Covell and Department of Student Life interns for sustainability seniors Julia Depillo and Eunisha Tucker helped at the “National Medication Takeback Day: Plants for Pills” event on Saturday Oct. 28 (pictured above left to right). Attendees had the opportunity to get rid of unwanted perscription medication safely and receive a plant in return. (Annalee Bainnson/Photo Editor)