ALPENA - Since the Yellow Jug Old Drugs program's conception in 2007, it has grown from six pharmacies to include 270 pharmacies across Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin. The Yellow Jug program mission is to promote the collection and disposal of unused/unwanted drugs in a safe and approved manner, and aims to keep the harmful effects of drugs out of ground, surface and municipal water systems in Michigan and the Great Lakes region.
"People were flushing their old drugs and it was affecting the water," organization President Chris Angel said. "Very little was being done across the county about the issue of pharmaceuticals in drinking water, so after we did some research, we began collecting old drugs at six pharmacies in Alpena, Rogers City, Oscoda and Tawas."
The pilot program went into full swing without a hitch, and has been collecting and properly disposing of old drugs since it was implemented. The Yellow Jug Old Drug program jugs are placed for the benefit of the public and are free of charge. Anyone can go into any pharmacy and dispose of their unwanted and unused drugs.
News Photo by Nicole Grulke
Neiman’s Family Market pharmacy technicians Shauna Losinski, left, and Hailee Himes, right, put old drugs into the yellow jug available for proper disposal at Neiman’s Pharmacy. The Yellow Jug Old Drugs program originated in Alpena in 2007, and has spread to include pharmacies all over the state.
"We wanted to make sure it worked in a small area first," Angel said. "It needed to be a regional, state and national program because water moves. Our goal is to make the program available in all the Great Lakes states by 2015."
Nearly all of the 83 counties in Michigan has a pharmacy with a Yellow Jug available for disposal. But even with the widespread success of the program, the Great Lakes Clean Water Organization wanted to find a way to let more people know why it was important to properly dispose of old drugs.
"We applied for a Department of Environmental Quality grant to produce a documentary," Angel said. "The program is strong, and we wanted to educate more people about proper disposal. This is the only state wide program of its kind that's a nonprofit program."
PBS stations airing Yellow Jug documentary
WCMU Mt. Pleasant
Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 21, at 5 p.m.
Dec. 30, at 11:30 p.m.
The grant was approved and the film crew got to work, shooting the entire documentary in Michigan. Scattered throughout the documentary are familiar sites such as the Mackinac Straits, the Au Sable River, and Tahquamenon Falls.
"We wanted to make the documentary personal," Angel said. "This is the first documentary that looks at pharmaceuticals in the water. Dana Kolpin of the U.S. Geological Survey was the lead scientist on the reconnaissance team that started doing research on this across the country. It's not just a Great Lakes issue. We wanted to remind people of all thing uses of water and that it's not just for drinking."
It took around a year to film the documentary, which is now available for free viewing on YouTube at the GLCW user channel, and through the GLCW website at www.greatlakescleanwater.org.
"We encourage everyone to watch and share the information in the documentary," Angel said. "This program started here in Alpena and is really leading the country in proper disposal of old drugs."
The documentary also will air on local PBS channels such as WCMU, with additional dates and times available at the GLCW website.
Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.