Are there alternatives to all this single-use plastic we have to use?

This is one part serious question, 3 parts activism. What can we do to eliminate all the single use plastic in the diabetic’s life style? I talked the Dr. into letting me use pens instead of syringes since the pen needles have less plastic involved. I suppose pumps reduce the amount of plastic a patient must discard. What are other tactics? Re-use is an obvious option, but, while I will reuse a lancet, I am uncomfortable about the safety of reusing pen needles. (And the few times I have it seems they hurt quite a bit after 1-2 uses.) Are there reusable syringes like I remember the Dr. office having when I was a kid? Any material scientists out there with ideas?

Yes, there are/were reusable insulin syringes. They are glass and can be sterilized by boiling, and the needles can be removed and resharpened with a whetstone.

I overlapped at the very tail end of the glass syringe’s reign, and I have a U-40 glass syringe at my parents’ house still. There are also some needles. Somehow the brand name Luer sticks in my head. I’m guessing the needles are all rusty by now.

I’m guessing I probably have some plastic U-40 syringes somewhere too.

I have no idea where this old-timey stuff could be bought new… but I think Luer is a name still associated with removable (non-insulin) syringe needles. Non-insulin syringes won’t be calibrated in units but probably in cc (for U-100, 1cc = 100 units).

This worries me too. I try and reuse syringes until it becomes difficult to push them in. The 8 mm 30 gauge needle seems to last the longest. I use the needle on the pens for the fast acting insulin for a day. which may mean about 10 separate injections. Still this does produce a lot of junk.

Pumps involve quite a bit of junk too. I reused syringes until the paint started to wear off the side.

I satisfy this urge by being extra scrupulous in other areas: no gas-hogging muscle cars, disposable razors, electricity-sucking Christmas lights or tin-canned vegetables for me.

I’m not trying to be snarky (not at all) but I have decided that fresh, clean, single-use medical supplies are easily counter-balanced by taking the Metro and re-using paper by writing my grocery lists, etc. on the backs of envelopes, and making donations to The Arbor Foundation and all the other little things I do every day to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Yep, I actually feel there is a lot more junk now that I’m on the pump…cartridges, insertion sets, paper coverings, little plastic dohickys (sp?), insertion needles and the needle to get the insulin out…lots of STUFF. When I was on MDI I used the needles for a day’s worth of shots, that’s about the only saving I can think I did. Oh yeah and the test strips, + I’m now switched to One Touch which puts 25 to a cannister instead of the 50 I had with One Touch. Oh yeah and my cat is on subcutaneous fluids so there are her sets and bags and needles…sigh

Hmmm…I’m just saying all the things I waste, no ideas how to save or recycle! Anybody have any suggestions?

And my recycling company switched their system now so they won’t take random plastic things, only plastic bottles!

I think there is a difference between being wasteful, and having necessary waste. Using disposable medical syringes/etc. seems to fall into the latter category to me. If you had an alternative re-usable syringe, I could see that. Re-using a syringe designed for single use seems like an invitation for infection. I will admit, I re-use lancets ALL THE TIME, but I don’t think I’ve ever re-used a syringe of pen needle tip.



I will agree with the pump also creating a lot of waste in all the packaging that the various tubes/sets/thingies come in. It is amazing how much garbage piles up on the day I have to change infusion sites and sensors together. I haven’t though to compare the compacted weight of the pump garbage vs. the garbage from multiple daily syringes though.

I don’t think I had any infections for 20 years of reusing the syringes? I didn’t ever use alcohol or anything either and usually carried them around in my pocket in a cool bag thing MrsAcidRock hooked me up with when we first started dating.

Well, I notice the same pile 'o trash when I change the cartridges in my printer, or the strings on my guitar, or after putting together some furniture from IKEA.

But I think medical waste is necessary waste, too.

I like JeanV’s solution. Single use plastic stuff is meant, I suppose, to avoid infections because each new item is supposedly sterile. I think that reusable needles are probably a lot thicker and painful than the disposables.

Pumps, BTW, come with MORE mess in my experience. You’ve got the old insertion set and reservoir plus the wrapping for the new insertion set and reservoir, plus the alcohol swab, plus the needle. That’s a truckload right there.

I don’t see a way around using all that crap.

Terry