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Diabetes Carnage.

I know my daily diabetes stuff produces a lot of waste, like the test strip I use every time I prick my finger and all the packaging that comes along with each disposable insulin pump infusion set. 

But it wasn't until I changed my pump and my Dexcom sensor at once that I realized how much carnage I leave in my management wake.  

Exhibit C (for crap, holy):

So.  Much.  Stuff!

If you scoot over to Flickr, you can see each item flagged in the photo, but the basic gist is that two small bits of technology attached to my body creates a lot of waste.  (The Blackberry is in the photo purely because I forgot to move it.  It isn't related to diabetes management.  Then again, with the number of emails I'm sending from that thing on an hourly basis on the climb, maybe it is.  Digression?  Yup.)

Other PWDs and parents of PWDs (POPWD?) have talked about the insane amount of diabetes-related garbage before, but this one night really showed me how so little goes such a long way - and not in a great way.  And with Earth Day coming up at the end of April, I'm extra-aware of the mess I make sometimes.  Do you guys put your stuff in a sharps container, or do you throw these things out?  I used to be so good about clipping syringe tips and filling those coffee cans and taping them shut with electrical tape, but the last few years have produced medical waste that doesn't look as "druggy" as the orange-capped syringes of my past diabetes life.  ;)

Once, in college, we had a party and threw out a lot of beer cans.  (There were seven of us in one house, okay?)  During the night, animals got into our garbage and we woke up to beer cans and - oh crap - syringes all over the front lawn.  I.  Was.  Mortified and have been paranoid ever since.  How do you guys dispose of your diabetes carnage?  I need some tips, because I'm getting sloppy.

(Also also, SUM may have some downtime this weekend, as I'm moving some web bits around.  So if you stop by over the weekend and hit a 404 or 500 error, please be patient.  I should be back up by Monday morning.  Thanks, and have a good weekend!)


I buy those BD sharps containers at Target ~ one lasts me a few months and they're around $3 I think. I try to be responsible for my sharps stuff b/c I'm paranoid someone will stick themselves with my mess! I have a friend who sliced his left arm open on a broken bottle reaching into the trash can to shove it down a bit, so I'm trying to be careful!

I put my sharps ( the occasional needle, pump sharps , sensor sharps, lancets in a ( yellow ) container ,labelled Biohazard, which I obtain from my Pharmacy: FREE , same idea you see at airport washrooms, doctor's offices .When container is full I take it to the Pharmacy. When I travel , I include my B-D Biohazard clipper( this thing is old and seems to have room for lots of clipped insulin needles) in my luggage .Indeed a lot of garbage , having diabetes . The lights will be off this Saturday from 8.30 - 9.30 pm

And I forgot to mention : USED BATTERIES ( a small fortune worth zero ) ; take these to a recycle FAIR in our community ..
( BC, Canada )

I put all my used humalog pens and lantus cartridges in an empty TIDE detergent bottle....it is a screw top so it works great, no way it will get lose and fall out and it's pretty big so I can fit a lot in there!


I wrote a post about diabetes waste for Blog Action Day in 2007. It includes some links and helpful tips that I found during my research. Perhaps you'll find it useful.



We have great recycling facilities here in Finland so all plastic, including the insulin pen needles, syringes and lancets I tape up in a big yoghurt pot,goes for energy waste - it is burnt to produce heat for the district heating systems. Cardboard from the boxes and batteries can also easily be recycled and disposed of safely. Anything to help!

Check your state and local waste-disposal laws... you may find the local hospital is part of a "needle exchange program" where you can bring in all your biohazard waste for proper disposal.

Kerri~ We put all of Kacey's diabetes "waste" (old insulin pens/vials, syringes, pen needles, lancets, pump supplies, and anything with blood on it) in an empty gallon water jug. I keep the top to it and I write "SHARPS- DO NOT TOUCH" on the outside with black marker. Once it's full, I cap it and then use clear packing tape to tape it shut. I know you can buy those red jugs at Walmart but it was just cheaper to use a water jug and it serves the same purpose. We've also been told to use a coffee can since the needles can't poke through that but we haven't had a problem with poke-through's. It wasn't until this past week that I saw how much "waste" you get with the pump. I just posted pics the other day with all the "stuff" spread out when Kacey had a "bleeder". Good luck!

This may be a stupid question, but what happens to all those sharps containers?? I was told by our DNE that she thinks they are thrown into landfills with the rest of the worlds waste. I may be rediculously naive, but I thought they were brought somewhere where all the contents were dumped out and autoclaved, maybe melted down... I don't know.. Then the sharps boxes sterilized and reused. If they are in fact thrown into landfills, imagine the waste that adds up to. Virtually every hospital room and nurse's station has a sharps container present (sometimes more than one), every doctor's exam room, and every single diabetec has a "sharps" container of some semblance. HOLY CRAP PEOPLE! The movie Wall-e comes to mind...

Okay...I feel kind of naive here. I thought maybe everyone does what we do (hehehe). Kerri, we put all the "stuff" in a sharps container...we get about 6 at a time. There's one in the kitchen, one in the bathroom. When they're full we take them down to the city's fire depart. and turn them in for more in exchange. All for free! And when Claire was in preschool, she would get the special treatment by whatever fireman was there!!...fun for me too! Anyone reading this should see if their city's fire depart does the same. At the start, we did need to show proof of residency. As for all the mounds of pump trash...yea, it's a lot! I'm really not sure if the plastic is recyclable or not. I shall find out...to do our part, this earth day!!

Hi Kerri, I get fre sharps containers online from a website I found shortly after I was diagnosed. Email me if you want the link.

Hi Kerri,

Here in Australia is illegal to dispose unsafely of needles and other sharps, so the use of a sharps container is almost mandatory.

That said, local governments (county) provide them for free and then you bring it back when full. Still a bit inconvenient but better that having someone accidentally stick with your syringe.



For years, I had been using a BD sharps container for anything with a point (lancet, pump supplies) and then when it was full, I'd put the lid on and toss it into our big trash can. (Before that, I used an empty bleach bottle that I would seal with half a roll of tape and write "Sharps! Don't open! Danger danger, Will Robinson!" all over with my Sharpie.) But now we have a state law that says all sharps must be placed in approved containers and returned to a collection center -- usually a drug store -- so that's what I'm doing nowadays. I often wonder how many people pay attention to the law.

We are lucky. Our local hospital lets us bring our biohazard waste and they dispose of it for us. We collect the waste at home in a BD sharps container so anyone seeing it will know not to touch it.

If we have batteries that have died, we take those to our local Best Buy (electronics store) and recycle them there.

I'm in Canada and like a past poster mentioned, we just go to the pharmacy and pick up the big yellow biohazard containers for FREE and return them when they are full (they, in turn, take them to the hospital for incineration).

The city where I live now has implemented a law where we HAVE to recycle for garbage pick up - so I sort through all the diabetes stuff. Dani is on MDI so while her syringes go in the yellow containers, we sort the plastic bags the needles come in, the caps, the boxes, the strips containers and boxes - everything (yeah, there's a lot of trash associated with this disease!).

Crazy stuff.

i put used sharps in a hard plastic bottle and then i glue it shut and throw it out.

My hubby pumps and he puts all the sharps stuff in a clear Pepsi bottle - one with a large opening - maybe it's one liter? when it's full, he duct tapes it shut and we throw it out. In Colorado, I don't think we can get sharps containers at Target,etc. and I think we actually would need to mail it away somewhere, so it does go in the trash. The plastic/paper/cardboard packaging, we recycle. I'll make a vow to find out more about improving disposal of the sharps parts. But the Pepsi bottle isn't full for about three months. Great topic!

I use a 1 quart sharps container I obtained from my Endocrinologist. It has the larger lid that you can put the pump reservoir, tubing, and pump sharps into without having to move them around to fit in. (A large rectangular top) When it is full, I take it to the Endocrinologist and she gives me a new one for free.

Hi, I just found your blog, and am not a blogger or much of a follower of anybody (until now I think ;) ) I do what many of these people do, I use our empty 2 liter DIET soda bottles. The one thing I would hope to emphasize here is that we all should be doing our part to figure out where to RECYCLE these. We cant be putting all of this in the dumps, our environment!! Oh that just kills me. Please do some research and look in to your communities ways of disposing of all of this lovely stuff. Our Dumps or Transfer stations here in the Seattle area have drop bins for any kind of container, and it is free.

I am excited to keep reading your posts and adding my 28 years of HEALTHY experience to your comments! (I was 13 months old when I was diagnosed with type 1!) It is part of life, a good life.

Hey all,

I'm in Canada (in NS!). Our drugstores provide sharps disposal free of charge. I just pick up a container, fill it, and return it to the pharmacy.

I'm also on Insets IIs, and the plastic parts are recyclable. So, I pull out the inserter needle, put it in the sharps container, and put the plastic part into the recycling bin. Hopefully that helps the planet a little!


I recently went on the Dexcom CBM system for several reasons. Better control being one.... the other being that ever since I had seizures in the middle of the night, I have been overly fearful of it happening again. I recently got my own place and live alone so I really wanted to have the CBM to alarm me if I was going too low and wake me up. I am having a hard time though as the monitor seems to stop working during the night and obviously completly defeating the purpose of having it in the first place. I have the sensor on my upper hip/lower back area and generally sleep on my side or stomach... i have the monitor in bed with me usually in a pocket... Any ideas? are others having this issue?

KR: ... monitor seems to stop working during the night ...

Hi KR, Consider trying your next probe in a different location, doesn't have to be hugely different. I use my left side love handle area and have found I sometimes get a similar result as you depending on where in that area I've inserted. In my case it seems to drop about 50% of the samples for the night, usually there are hours where it is all fine then hours where they are 75% missing. Next time I move it around by 3-4 inches. I would suspect some unforeseen fluid dynamics change caused by pressure elsewhere, don't have computer simulation models to help us figure it out, so just try different locations and possibly sleeping positions (harder to control). Good luck, it is frustrating!!

K: Sorry, didn't see a way to move to another topic/thread.

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