A news story this week reported that scientists have improved the naturally occurring enzyme that can ‘eat’ plastic.
Good news, eh? Few people fail to be moved by the sight of the oceans brimming with waste. We all want to cut down on plastic and our use of it.
When you have diabetes, particularly type one, you use more plastic than most people. It wraps itself around individual pump components, it shields needles and it’s what lancets are made from. I hope the plastic-eating enzyme hurries up in its development so I’ll be able to chuck all that junk into a machine in my house.
The only figures I can find relate to general medical waste in the US. The market is expected to increase from $10.3 billion in 2015 to $13.3 billion in 2020. As rates of diabetes increase, that figure will only get higher.
I can’t find many specific tips to help us reduce the plastic we use for we diabetics, but here are some ideas I came up with…
- Can you choose reusable pens, instead of disposable ones? This will depend on your insulin and what the manufacturers offer. Perhaps we should ask them to provide permanent devices if they don’t?
- Recycle what you can—in my case, I throw the clean needle covers and empty test tube tubs into the recycling bins.
- Nearby animal sanctuaries might be able to use old syringes to feed baby animals or give them meds. (Not sure about this one—check it out with your shelter.)
- Small local businesses that do mail orders might take the polystyrene packing you get with any ordered supplies.
- Finally, donate your old insulin and medical gear. If you have sealed, unopened packets of insulin, needles, lancets, infusion sets for pumps, unopened test strips and more, please give them a charity if you can. Insulin for Life works to distribute insulin and supplies to disadvantaged people. It operates in nine countries, including Germany, Australia, the UK and the US and distributes to 74 places.
Do you have imaginative ideas for what to do with diabetes-related medical waste? I’d love to know. Please feel free to comment.