By Celia Shatzman
The Cause: P2D2: Wisconsin Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal
Jordyn Schara, 16
Hometown: North Freedom, Wisconsin
Family: mom Krystal; dad Jeffrey; brother Josh, 20
Jordyn Schara wanted to create a nonprofit to help her hometown, so she started researching local issues. When she learned that the same pills kids were using to get high were also harming the water supply, she knew she had found her cause. Jordyn discovered that "after marijuana, prescription drugs are the second most prevalent drug problem in this country." She realized that one way to prevent teens from abusing these drugs was to give parents a safe place to dispose of their old pills, which in turn would end up benefiting the environment.
Generally, it is advised not to dispose of leftover antibiotics, heart meds, or hormones—there are a few exceptions—via the toilet or sink, since they may contaminate our drinking water. And when thrown in the trash (where kids or pets could find them), they end up in a landfill, leaching into the soil and entering groundwater supplies. By providing her town with a drug-disposal box, Jordyn found a way to help her community's teens while protecting its water.
She reached out to other drug disposal programs to learn how they got started. She gained support and raised awareness by speaking at schools and organizations such as the Rotary, Kiwanis, and Elks clubs, which also offered financial support. This enabled Jordyn to launch her nonprofit, HOPE (Helping Our Peers Excel), the umbrella organization for Wisconsin Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal (P2D2).
P2D2 held its first drug disposal drive in September 2009 at a police station and collected 440 pounds of medication. When the second drive in April 2010 rounded up another 370 pounds, Jordyn decided to come up with a day-to- day solution—a permanent disposal box at the police station. Fundraising efforts are ongoing, since it costs $3 a pound to properly destroy pills. Jordyn has helped several towns start their own programs; she hopes P2D2 will eventually branch out nationwide. "The more people know," she says, "the less likely they are to abuse meds."
Originally published in the June 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.