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Make Your Medicine Cabinet Green

By Sara Butler

The things lurking in your medicine cabinet may make you feel better temporary, but in the long run, they can have a serious impact on your health and the environment. There are things you can easily replace your drugstore go-tos with that are natural and safe. This way, you can minimize the impact of your medicine cabinet on the health of your family and the health of the planet. Here are a few ways you can get started.

Look at the Labels

Everything in your bathroom, from shampoo to body lotion, needs to be looked at carefully. You need to look for ingredients on the labels that are considered health red flags, such as:

  • Propyl paraben
  • Butyl paraben
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Triclosan
  • DEA (diethanolamine)
  • MEA (monoethanolamine)
  • TEA (triethanolamine)
  • Phthalates

Be aware that not every product is required by law to list all ingredients on their labels. This is especially concerning when it comes to fragrance. So, buy fragrance-free products or products that use a natural source to add fragrance to a product, such as essential oils.

Get Rid of Things Responsibly

You should never flush expired or unused medications down your toilet. The active ingredients may contaminate the water supply. In fact, a study published in the journal Environmental Pollution found that samples from water treatment plants across the United States found 50 percent to test positive for different drugs, such as high blood pressure medications and antidepressants.

You can dispose of medications yourself by crushing them up and combining them with cat litter or coffee grounds before sealing them up in a container and throwing them in the trash. If you don’t want to do that, then you can go to your local pharmacy or police station and ask if they have programs to dispose of medication.

Swap Smart

You also need to take a look at some of the equipment you’ve got in your medicine cabinet. For example, thermometers with mercury in them are no longer for sale. If you have one hiding out, you should call your local waste disposal company to get instructions for safe disposal, since mercury is a toxin bad for both you and the environment.

You may want to consider trading out cotton balls for reusable cotton pads or regular old washcloths. Also trade in your plastic toothbrushes and razors for versions made from more sustainable products, such as recycled materials.

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