Dear Annie: Every month I take many medications. In the past, when I’ve finished one, I tear the label off of the container and throw it into the recycling bag. I think that throwing these out is such a waste. I called the pharmacy and asked whether the containers are returnable, and they told me no. Do you have any idea why they do not reuse these containers? – Anon
Dear Anon: We contacted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and here is what we were told: Reuse of this sort of container is complicated, due to the remaining residues from different medications and the facilities that pharmacies would need to have onsite to be able to safely reuse the containers. Plastic medicine bottles can be recycled, but collection varies greatly throughout the country. Some residential recycling programs collect medicine bottles for recycling, as do some pharmacies and stores. (For example, Whole Foods encourages consumers to bring all No. 5 plastics to their store, which generally includes medicine bottles.) A helpful resource for finding recycling outlets for specific materials is Earth911.com.
Dear Annie: Sorry, but your answer to “Grinch in Arizona” could have been better. She said she and her husband say in advance that they are giving donations to an animal shelter instead of presents, but her stepdaughter keeps giving them gifts. You said they should bring a card from the animal shelter saying the donation had been made in their honor.
Giving a donation to “Grinch’s” favorite charity is not a gift to the family. It would be much better to tell the family you are giving donations and ask whether they have a favorite charity. If not, then Grinch could suggest their animal shelter. – Cheryl
Dear Cheryl: Since this couple made it clear in advance that this was their holiday policy and they wanted no gifts in return, we thought it was acceptable. But many readers agree with you.