DiversityNursing Blog

Empty Pill Bottles Desperately Needed (Take your meds & help others!)

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, Sep 08, 2015 @ 01:58 PM

Ginger Ail Blog post


Not every patient gets their medication in a pill bottle. In other parts of the world these patients are handed their pills and must use whatever they have to keep the medication safe. In three easy steps you can make a difference for those patients.

Pill bottles: they are those translucent orange soldiers that pile up all around us… in our drawers, bags, cabinets… sometimes I wonder – if I had saved every empty pill bottle since I got sick, what would that look like?

One of the things I have always hated the most about being sick, is you often need more help than you can give. That’s not always true, but there are definitely days or weeks like that for even the most functioning among us. I see those specials on tv and think: I want to build a Habitat for Humanity house or dig wells in Africa (this might be a late night, insomnia induced thought but the general sentiment still stands).

Neither of those will be happening in my lifetime, but that’s okay. There really are other things we can do, all of us, to help other people no matter how sick we are. Here’s one idea that only requires a bit of energy…

“Medicine Bottles for Malawi” is a project with an idea so simple, it’s brilliant. I’ve tried this myself so I can vouch for how easy it is to do and how good it feels to pass on something you know will help others.

Imagine you’ve walked miles to a remote village or hospital to receive any form of medical care you can find. You are given the medication you desperately needed and now you have to start the journey back home. You don’t shake the pill bottle maraca as you walk because there is no pill bottle, heck there’s barely medicine. The pills you received are wrapped in a tiny scrap of newspaper.

A scrap of newspaper is all the protection your precious cargo has. The more I thought about this, the more I realized it’s a bigger problem than it sounds like: no safe way to carry the meds home when you are most likely walking miles, no way to really protect the meds from moisture, loss, damage once you get them home. Apparently those orange bottles do more than you think and so can you…

How to Help:

Step 1: Take your meds and when you finish the bottle, don’t throw it away! This includes bottles you might receive over the counter like for Advil, Motrin, vitamin bottles, supplements – as long as the bottles aren’t large, send them on! (Large bottles just cost too much to ship).

Step 2: Remove the label. I find it’s easiest just to peel them off, takes a few seconds, but you can also save up until you have a pile of the bottles and dump them into a bowl of boiling hot water.

Step 3: Snail Mail Send them off! I used a large flat manila envelope, it’s cheap & easy to mail.

Address it to: The Malawi Project, Inc.
3314 Van Tassel Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46240

Tip: Take a photo of that ^ address on your phone & save it as a contact! When you have enough bottles to send off, you won’t have to log back in here to find the address. I do this often and it definitely saves some energy to take photos of info.

Bonus Benefit: I saw someone online arguing that we shouldn’t send them to Malawi because they won’t be recycled when they are finished being used. I thought this question was silly since they are so desperately needed there but I like the answer all the same: Nothing goes to waste in Malawi. Your medicine bottle, when it’s empty, will be used in 100 other ways. Imagine you have very little and then think of all the ways a bottle with a sealed lid could be helpful.

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