Kendra's Tips for Safe Needle Disposal

Contributor
Kendra Bass

My name is Kendra Bass. I’m currently enrolled at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and plan to graduate May 2023! I am a Biology/Pre-Med major with a minor in nutrition. I live out my dog mom life with my chocolate lab named Jasmine. I love to dance: I am currently learning ballroom dancing and I was a competitive dancer in high school. I have had diabetes for two and a half years - I was diagnosed at 18 years old. I am involved with American Medical Student Association, BioME and have been starting a CDN chapter at my school.

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"Going back to school with a diabetes diagnosis was very confusing and challenging."

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Going back to school with a diabetes diagnosis was very confusing and challenging. I was lucky enough to live at home and go to college because my school is across town. Even so, I was unsure what to do with my needles due to using a pen my first year of diagnosis and constantly using lancets until I was approved for a Dexcom. Luckily, most bathrooms in my building had a sharps container -  but not always and sometimes they were full or missing. Here are tips and tricks I use to safely dispose of my needles in my home state of Pennsylvania.

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"I usually keep a small container in my backpack/purse for loose needles that I then transfer into a laundry detergent bottle at home."

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First, you need a thick and sturdy plastic container. These can include empty laundry detergent bottles or bleach bottles. When it is about 75% full, duct tape the top closed and write with sharpie “DO NOT RECYCLE”. You can then dispose of it in the regular household trash or take it to a disposal site such as Needle Disposal | Klingensmith's (klingensmiths.com). I usually keep a small container in my backpack/purse for loose needles that I then transfer into a laundry detergent bottle at home. If you do not want to use recycled jars or bottles, you can buy sharps containers in various sizes online or at local drug stores.

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"Advocate for yourself and others who may have similar needs."

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At school, I have learned that if your school does not have something…ask for it! Advocate for yourself and others who may have similar needs. Many school disability centers will be willing to help install sharps containers in bathrooms for your convenience. Prepare for a conversation with the disability center representative by explaining the benefits these containers would have for you and others. Similarly, when traveling, you can ask the front desk for a sharps container to be brought to your hotel room.

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"NEVER throw your loose needles in recycling or the trash."

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No matter where you live, study, or travel, NEVER throw your loose needles in recycling or the trash. Do not throw them away in the trash unless they’re stored in a durable plastic container. Do not flush needles down toilets. 

Here are examples and links to proper containers for disposing of sharps: 

Sharps Containers | Needle Disposal Boxes | Vitality Medical

Sharps Containers - Walmart.com

Amazon.com: Sharps Containers

This educational content is sponsored by SafetyIsThePoint.org. Learn more here.

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Kendra's headshot
Description

Kendra Bass attends Indiana University of Pennsylvania and majors in biology pre-med with a minor in nutrition. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 18 years old during her 1st semester of college. Currently, she works as an EMT and hopes to become a pediatric endocrinologist. She is a 2022 NextGen Fellow in the medicine, research, and entrepreneurship cohort.