Your little plastic pill bottles can make a major difference to the world.

If you took every prescription pill bottle you've ever used and laid them in a single line, how far would they stretch?

Maybe you've been picking up the same two medications every month at CVS for the last 10 years. That's 240 little orange pill bottles right there. And once you start counting all those Motrin and Claritin and whatever other over-the-counter bottles you've gone through in your life, it starts to add it up.

It might not seem like much to you. But it's enough to reach a million lives in the east African country of Malawi.

A landlocked African country near Mozambique with a population of more than 16 million people, Malawi is one of the least developed countries in the world — which means, among other things, that Malawians must contend with a broken health care system plagued by a lack of training, resources, and general infrastructure, making it difficult for people to get the help they need when they need it.

Children in Matanda, Malawai. Photo by khym/Flickr.

And even when the right medicines are available, most patients don't have a way to bring them home.

Resources in Malawi are so scarce that most doctors just wrap prescription pills in the nearest piece of scrap paper or drop them in the patient's hand before they send them on their way. 

\n\n

But more than half of Malawians live more than three miles away from the nearest health clinic — a long way to walk with a handful of loose pills.

\n\n

If you lose 'em on the way? Guess you're outta luck.

Think about that the next time you're crawling on the bathroom floor looking for that one pill you dropped. Photo by Luigi Guarino/Flickr.

"A safe storage container that protects the medication from the elements is important," explained Dr. Sallie Permar, associate professor of pediatrics, molecular genetics and microbiology, and immunology at the Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University Medical Center. "There have been recent major public health achievements in increasing the access to these life-saving medications in low- and middle-income countries such as Malawi. Yet one of the biggest challenges in clinical medicine in any setting is patient adherence to daily medications."

That's why the Malawi Project put out a call for donations of prescription pill bottles to send to those who need them most.

Founded by Dick and Suzi Stephens, a couple with a history of bringing aid to Malawi, this charitable organization was formed as a conduit to implement humanitarian aid and community projects in the country that can then be handed over to the people themselves.

\n\n

"Our whole idea is to empower the Malawians to empower themselves," Suzi said in an interview with NPR, referring to the fact that "teach a man to fish" is one of their guiding principles.

The medicine bottle recycling program is just one of many initiatives that the Stephens helped to facilitate.

\n\n

When it was first announced on Facebook in March 2015, the post was shared more than 80,000 times, reaching an audience of more than 5 million people.

\nWithin eight months, they'd received more than 2 million prescription pill bottles to send to the people of Malawi.

In fact, the project was so successful that they had to stop accepting donations because they received more than they could possibly handle.

\n\n

Not bad for a little charity run out of the couple's home, huh?

Though the Malawi Project's initiative has ended, there are plenty of other ways that you can clear out your collection of orange containers and still help people in the process.

  1. Peel the labels off and send your pill bottles to an international outreach program, such as Matthew 25: Ministries or Samaritan's Purse (the latter of whom are looking for everything from hospital gowns to lightly used defibrillators, in addition to medicine bottles).
  2. Contact an animal hospital or ASPCA near you to see if they could use some pill bottles stock for pet medicines. (And remind me to tell you that story sometime about my chinchilla's morphine addiction.) 
  3. Reach out to your local community health center or homeless shelter to find out if they're accepting donations. Because as cool as it is to think of your used medicine bottles making a difference all the way across the world, you might have neighbors who could use the help as well.

It's a simple way to clear out clutter and make a major impact on the world. When we work together, everybody wins.

True

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday are teaming up to find the people who lead with love everyday.

Know someone in your neighborhood who's known for their optimistic attitude, commitment to bettering their community and always leading with love? Tell us about them for the chance to win a $2,000 grant to keep doing good in their community.

Nomination ends November 22, 2020

via Brittany Kinley / Facebook

Brittany Kinley, a mother from Mansfield, Texas, had a hilarious mom fail her and she's chalking it up to being just another crazy thing that happened in 2020.

When Kinley filled out the order form for her son Mason's kindergarten class pictures, there was an option to have his name engraved into the photos. But Kinley wasn't interested in having her son's name on the photos so she wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" on the box.

Well, it appears as though she should have left the box blank because the computer or incredibly literal human that designed the photographs wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" where mason's name should be.

Keep Reading Show less
True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
via Witty Buttons / Twitter

Back in 2017, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was socked in the face by someone wearing all black at Trump's inauguration, it launched an online debate, "Is it OK to punch a Nazi?"

The essential nature of the debate was whether it was acceptable for people to act violently towards someone with repugnant reviews, even if they were being peaceful. Some suggested people should confront them peacefully by engaging in a debate or at least make them feel uncomfortable being Nazi in public.

Keep Reading Show less
via UDOT / Facebook

In December 2018, The Utah Department of Transportation opened the largest wildlife overpass in the state, spanning 320 by 50 feet across all six lanes of Interstate 80.

Its construction was intended to make traveling through the I-80 corridor in Summit County safer for motorists and the local wildlife.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that there were over 100 animal incidents on the interstate since 2016, giving the stretch of highway the unfortunate nickname of "Slaughter Row."

Keep Reading Show less