How to Dispose of Old Vitamins.

Old Vitamins starting to decompose

Old Vitamins starting to decompose

The first of the year some how invokes that “must “declutter feeling.”   Is it being indoor?  A new year?  Who know.  All I do know is my pantry is the bane of my existence.    Especially the shelves that contain the vitamins.

I swear they grow expontentially. And no, Suzanne Sommers doesn’t live with me.  However, if  there were a male Suzanne Sommers, it would be my hubby.  He is a vitamin addict. We have vitamins that I have no idea what they are for. Three or four containers of the same vitamin. Why? He can’t see what he has and doesn’t have. Do you have a vitamin addict in your house?

DeCluttering the Pantry

I have challenged you several time on Green Talk to declutter your pantry. I don’t know about you, but when the pantry is crowded I often buy more than I should. Why? How the heck can see you behind 10 cans of tomato sauce?  Or all the empty boxes that the cavemen fail to throw out.  Are you with me here?

Hubby is the buyer in the household and love a good sale.  Hence, in my opinion, the clutter. Let’s be frank. Hubby needs a full time clutter assistant or an intervention, which ever comes first.  Who is this “person” in your home?

More Vitamins in a Square Mile Then People in NJ

Well, this year I had it with the overpopulation of vitamins. There was one designated shelf for vitamins that has grown in five years to three shelves. I kid you not. And between you and me, how many do you think have expired?

So, I methodically alphabetized all the vitamins. Before, you say, Anna, come on, get a life, there is a method to my madness. I figured if he saw with his vitamin A enriched eyes how many multiple bottles of  the same vitamins he had, he would be more careful in the future.  Fat chance, but a green girl is gotta do what’s she has to do.   (Okay, how many bottles of vitamin C do you need?  With all those vitamins who gets colds anyways?)

Oh, did I tell you.  He even had half bottles of the same vitamins. You don’t want to know how many hours this little exercise took me.

Don’t get me wrong.  Hubby is a lovable guy but this vitamin thing has me pretty wacked.

Finally, hubby knew that he had to clean up the vitamins starring him the face. As he sorted, he made different piles:

  • expired vitamins (surprise, surprise)
  • not my vitamins (ie belongs to the kids, the dog we don’t have, and maybe a distant cousin’s) and
  •  finally, the ones that he wanted to keep.

So What Do I Do With the Old Vitamins?

So, as you can imagine, I had alot of vitamins to dispose of. Throwing them down the toliet wasn’t an option.  According to the EPA,

“[s]ome medicines, vitamins and other supplements poured down the drain or flushed down the toilet may pass through wastewater treatment plants. They may enter lakes, rivers and streams which are often used as sources for community drinking water supplies. Watertreatment plants are generally not equipped to routinely remove medicines and supplements.”

As I search online for alternatives, I ran across the following options:

For the life of me, I couldn’t find anyone to donate the vitamins to.  The take back program in my area had occurred.  Another one wouldn’t be schedule until April.   So, the light bulb came on and I thought why not compost them. They are just minerals, right?

The Experiment

I didn’t want to just throw them in the composter since I couldn’t figure out how they would decompose.   However, if I did, some rodent probably would be quite healthy.  Those darn animals get into the compost in the winter despite my rodent screen. Plus, some of the vitamins are gel coated. How the heck were they going to decompose?

So, I decided to put them in boiling water. My friend’s college age child who is majoring in chemical engineering suggested that I use vingear to simulate the stomach acid. Clever, huh?  However, I tried boiling water first.

Bowl #2 of Old Vitamins that Liquefied in Water

Bowl #2 of Old Vitamins that Decomposed in Water

Lo and behold a couple of hours later, I had vitamin soup. Thank goodness it didn’t smell bad since there were old cinamon capsules in the mix. But, it didn’t look particular appetizing.

Guess who had the task of taking it down to the composter?  Hubby.

So, next spring I expect to have the healthiest compost in the neighborhood!

Join the Conversation

  • How do you dispose of your old vitamins?
  • Do you have a place to give them to?
  • Do have a rule of thumb to know when vitamins expire?
  • Do you compost them too?
  • Can you add to the list of international or state takeback programs?

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    Hi Anna:

    I’ve come upon your blog on so many occasions during my research for a huge database that we’re creating as a free resource for people to use on their smart phones and the Web for responsibly disposing of their unwanted stuff. Your format is easy to follow, your voice is humorous and friendly, but most importantly, you are providing much-needed information, insights, and guidance for living closer to the rhythms of the Earth, protecting its precious resources. Whether you’re giving creative ideas on how to dispose of your expired vitamins or green gardening tips, your posts are clear and to the point. We’d love to link to your content and point people to your information wherever it makes sense within our database, if that’s okay with you. And if you’d like to learn more about us, we’ve just launched a Kickstarter campaign at I’d love to tell you more about our app when you have the time. Thanks for all that you’re doing, you truly are a great resource, and we look forward to following your every word in the future.

    Liesl Clark

    Cora: A Mobile App Providing Smart Solutions for our Excessive Waste


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