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What to Do With Your Used Diabetes Supplies: Managing Diabetes Sustainably

Published: 4/17/23 11:49 am
By Arvind Sommi

From reducing single-use plastics to supporting companies that prioritize sustainability, there are many ways we can make a difference. Celebrate Earth Day by taking a closer look at how to reduce the environmental impact while still managing your diabetes effectively.

One of the biggest environmental concerns in diabetes care is the use of single-use plastic. Many of the products that people with diabetes use every day, such as insulin pens, glucose test strips, and lancets, are made of plastic and are designed to be used once and discarded. 

However, the packaging of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and insulin pumps also contribute to plastic waste. These devices are often packaged in individual plastic containers and shipped in cardboard boxes. Packaging can add up quickly, contributing to the growing problem of plastic waste in our landfills and oceans.

To reduce the environmental impact of diabetes management, companies are exploring more sustainable materials for packaging. For example, the Dexcom G7 packaging uses significantly less plastic than the G6. In addition, some device manufacturers, such as Abbott, are now offering recycling programs for their products, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills.

In addition to these efforts, people with diabetes can take action themselves to reduce plastic waste. Here are some actionable tips:

  • Switch to reusable insulin pens – Instead of using disposable insulin pens, consider switching to a reusable pen that can be refilled with insulin cartridges. This can help reduce the amount of plastic waste generated by insulin pens.

  • Dispose of your diabetes supplies properly – When disposing of your diabetes supplies, make sure to follow the proper guidelines for your area. Some communities have specific guidelines for the disposal of medical waste, including sharps containers for needles and lancets. Proper disposal of diabetes supplies, such as lancets, needles, and insulin pens, can prevent them from ending up in landfills or polluting the environment. There may be a disposal program available for injectable medications, such as Ozempic.

  • Choose eco-friendly diabetes products – Some companies are starting to offer more sustainable diabetes products, such as glucose test strips made from paper rather than plastic. Look for these products when shopping for diabetes supplies.

By supporting companies that are taking steps to reduce their environmental impact, we can help drive change in the diabetes care industry. We can also make changes in our own lives to reduce our plastic waste and manage our diabetes sustainably.

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About the authors

Arvind Sommi joined the diaTribe Foundation in 2021 after graduating with Phi Beta Kappa and honors from the University of Florida where he majored in Biology and minored in Sociology.... Read the full bio »