Having a disability can result in SO much physical waste. Every day I discard alcohol swabs, insulin pens, plastic casing around needles, and packaging from my pump and glucose monitor into the landfill. As much as I would love to at least recycle some of these items, most cannot.
We are living in a society-supported pro-consumerism environment. I have been trying to become aware of and limit how much waste I produce that cannot be either composted or reused. I am trying to reduce.
For awhile, I wanted to do the extreme- Zero-Waste. This was difficult in a dorm where I cannot control the heat and electricity being delivered to my rented space, so I focused on material waste and chose wisely when I went to the cafeteria- only eating foods that were from our campus farm. I never counted medical waste as part of my waste because it is mandatory for survival. However- there are some things I am in control over.
- I can wash my hands or shower prior to pricking my finger or changing a pump or glucose monitor site rather than using alcohol swabs as a disinfectant.
- I choose what snacks I use to correct for hypoglycemia. Typically I use juice boxes in the car and at home and running gels on the go. Although gu packages can be terracycled- fossil fuels are still used and I am still creating a significant carbon footprint. Focusing more on the juice boxes- this packaging cannot be recycled and I am using a straw that will soon get lost and found at sea.
- I have to charge my dexcom receiver, but I can opt to charge it with my Goal Zero camping solar panel rather than using electricity.
- Most of the time, I have to drive to visit my endo or list of other doctors us diabetics are required to visit within a year. While in school, I tend to schedule these appointments for the summer or winter break. On these days where I have to drive to the neighboring town for my visit, I pack my bike in the back of my car and bike around the city going to coffee shops to work on homework or read or visit friends rather than wasting more fossil fuels to drive around everywhere. It allows me to stay active and gives me a reason to explore. But, obviously, this is not always possible, but is something to consider.
MINIMAL WASTE ALTERNATIVES TO JUICE BOXES:
* dried fruit from the bulk section
* fresh fruit – mango, apple, banana, berries, pineapple
* dates and peanut butter (both from bulk)
* juice from a glass container
* smoothies made at home or bought on the go with a reusable jar or bottle
* home made protein or granola bars
ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF OMNIPOD:
Omnipod used to participate in a recycling program in which one could request a blue bag to fill with used pods and send back to the company to recycle the parts. However, when I called to ask for a new bag, they said omnipod was no longer participating in the recycling program. The reasoning: it was too expensive and not enough material was salvaged to make it worth the cost and carbon footprint. HOWEVER, the women made sure to inform me that omnipod still has this allocated money for the recycling program to instead donate to environmental organizations that are either off setting carbon footprints or making a significant environmental impact. Although I do not know what specific orgs they are supporting, it is still a step in the right direction and I am happy to support and be supported by an insulin pump company that is environmentally aware.
HOW TO PROPERLY SORT YOUR MEDICAL WASTE INTO RECYCLE AND TRASH:
wax paper info cover on dexcom sensors and omnipods
adhesive backs from dexcom, omnipod and adhesive patches
any small plastic piece broken off during the insertion process
(Note: I am unaware of all of the piece involved in other pumps so I cannot speak for those)
small, colored pen needle cover
dexcom packaging (too glossy to recycle)
any packaging tape
Plastic container holding omnipods and dexcom sensors
Omnipod box for set of 10
Cardboard boxes for packaging (w/o the tape)
Every little action counts, especially when all of us actively play small roles. Put your money and your mouth and your mindset where our ecosystem can flourish and provide for us.