Due Diligence

It’s the kind of thing you don’t think about until three dozen used hypodermic needles are collecting in a flower vase on your kitchen counter.

Let me back up a bit.

A little more than a month ago, our oldest dog, Rover, was diagnosed with doggie diabetes. She needs twice daily injections of insulin and I get the duty (and the


, as it turns out. Astute observers of this space will recall my lament over the schlepping of dog turds to the vet when we were deep in diagnosis.)

Rovie’s a trouper and her health is improving, thanks for asking.

Back to the matter at hand – the disposal of used syringes. Before this, I was clueless. If ignorance is bliss, and bliss is at the far end of the spectrum, I was on the glide path to nirvana. On the list of things I chose not to care about, the disposal of used hypodermic needles ranked somewhere between butternut squash ravioli (there’s some in our freezer) and Miley Cyrus’s motivation.

Can I stick some flowers in here, too?

Clearly, some due diligence was called for. I was starting to care a little bit more. (SPOILER ALERT – my caring peaks about here.)

On a Target run, we procure a coupla “Home Sharps Containers” (2.99 apiece.) That gets ‘em outa the flower vase. But what to do with the Home Sharps Container when it gets full?

First stop – Howie’s Trash Service (weekly trash and bi-monthly...

er, twice a month

... recycling pickup) – all stowed in natty purple containers picked up by purple trucks – Howie knows his market.) Howie says, nope, we don’t collect them, are you kidding? Our guys’d get poked with needles allatime yo? Try Riley County Hazardous Waste.


The Hazardous Waste peeps’ll take my empty cans of Raid and that spare 55-gallon drum of mercury that’s been taking up space in the garage, but not my 2.99 ap


Home Sharps Container. Try the Riley County Health Department.


The woman who answered the phone at the Riley County Health Department had that exasperated, resigned tone one would expect from the person assigned to answer the phone at a public health agency in a college town.

She listened politely as I walked through my dilemma. Sure, we’ll take your Home Sharps Containers she says. 12 bucks a pop.

The deeper I got into this system, the more my curiosity was aroused. What do you guys do with all these containers fulla used needles?

Somebody comes and picks them up.

Who..? And where do they take them? (I used to be a reporter. I still ask a lot of questions. Drives Jackie b-a-n-a-n-a-s.)

By now, the Health Department Exasperator had fulfilled her obligation and had neither the time nor the inclination to listen to a usedtobe reporter’s lame brain dump.

I wanted to ask her if all the Home Sharps Containers go in a special section of the landfill. Then I thought of doctor’s offices, hospitals. What about the Vet school? Is there a special used needle repository somewhere deep beneath the sea?

What do the junkies do?

Wikipedia tells me state government oversight of hazardous waste disposal varies from “no regulations to very strict.” I ‘spect Kansas is somewhere in the middle.

I could dig deeper, but guess what?

I no longer care that much.