Empty Pill Bottles Desperately Needed (Take your meds & help others!)

Pill bottles: they are those translucent orange soldiers that pile up all around us… in our drawers, bags, cabinets… sometimes I wonder – if I had saved every empty pill bottle since I got sick, what would that look like?
Mountains of Pill Bottles
One of the things I have always hated the most about being sick, is you often need more help than you can give.  That’s not always true, but there are definitely days or weeks like that for even the most functioning among us.  I see those specials on tv and think: I want to build a Habitat for Humanity house or dig wells in Africa (this might be a late night, insomnia induced thought but the general sentiment still stands).

Neither of those will be happening in my lifetime, but that’s okay.  There really are other things we can do, all of us, to help other people no matter how sick we are.  Here’s one idea that only requires a bit of energy…

“Medicine Bottles for Malawi” is a project with an idea so simple, it’s brilliant. I’ve tried this myself so I can vouch for how easy it is to do and how good it feels to pass on something you know will help others.

Imagine you’ve walked miles to a remote village or hospital to receive any form of medical care you can find.  You are given the medication you desperately needed and now you have to start the journey back home.  You don’t shake the pill bottle maraca as you walk because there is no pill bottle, heck there’s barely medicine.  The pills you received are wrapped in a tiny scrap of newspaper.

A scrap of newspaper is all the protection your precious cargo has. The more I thought about this, the more I realized it’s a bigger problem than it sounds like: no safe way to carry the meds home when you are most likely walking miles, no way to really protect the meds from moisture, loss, damage once you get them home.  Apparently those orange bottles do more than you think and so can you…

How to Help:Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 2.43.33 AM

Step 1:
Take your meds and when you finish the bottle, don’t throw it away!  This includes bottles you might receive over the counter like for Advil, Motrin, vitamin bottles, supplements – as long as the bottles aren’t large, send them on! (Large bottles just cost too much to ship).
Donate Pill Bottles
Step 2:
Remove the label.
I find it’s easiest just to peel them off, takes a few seconds, but you can also save up until you have a pile of the bottles and dump them into a bowl of boiling hot water.

Step 3: Snail Mail
Send them off!
I used a large flat manila envelope, it’s cheap & easy to mail.

Address it to:

The Malawi Project, Inc.
3314 Van Tassel Drive
Indianapolis, IN

Tip: Take a photo of that ^ address on your phone & save it as a contact!  When you have enough bottles to send off, you won’t have to log back in here to find the address.  I do this often and it definitely saves some energy to take photos of info. 

Bonus Benefit:
I saw someone online arguing that we shouldn’t send them to Malawi because they won’t be recycled when they are finished being used.  I thought this question was silly since they are so desperately needed there but I like the answer all the same:  Nothing goes to waste in Malawi.  Your medicine bottle, when it’s empty, will be used in 100 other ways.  Imagine you have very little and then think of all the ways a bottle with a sealed lid could be helpful.

The medicine bottles we don’t need or want anymore, that probably lie around in drawers reminding us we need that medicine to begin with, to someone else, it’s a gift.  What better way to use a little bit of energy and send them on!

571 thoughts on “Empty Pill Bottles Desperately Needed (Take your meds & help others!)

  1. I have alot of these pill bottles and have been wondering what I should do with them. I’ve even thought about my niece who is a elementary teacher who could possibly use for a craft idea for her class. I’ve also thought about doing a craft idea myself, but unfortunately I’m not too crafty, wish I was tho. If there’s anyone who could use them, I would gladly give them away.


  2. Hi, I like this idea. I hate the thought of my pill bottles going in the local landfill to be there 100 years later. I used to know a lady that worked with older people. They used them to store quarters for laundry and all types of things. I don’t have that option any more so I was wondering if this project is still going on. Please let me know at the email below.

    Have a Great Day!


    • Pill bottles are recyclable. They have a triangle on the bottom of the bottle, just be sure to get the labels off before putting them in a recycle box. Some one on this site has said according to the Malawi Project inc facebook page the project is no longer taking the bottles. Double check their page for updated information.


  3. I checked the website this ended, but they gave some suggestions such as local animal shelters, they gave an email address for a program on Cincinnati. I may check local senior centers, etc.


  4. I’ve sent a lot, I think it’s a great idea. I have another shipment ready. The downfall is the postage. It’s more than I’d like to pay.


  5. I have been collecting these ever since I saw this post, just over a year ago. I even got my Drs office to help contribute and to this day, we have hundreds of empty bottles. I am going to be sending 3 decent sized box packages this week, and I’m hoping this project is still active and they make it to where they need to be. God Bless who came up with doing this….


  6. I take possibly a thousand medications in a year! That’s approximately 60 bottles of various shapes and sizes. I’m going to do this soon. What better way to recycle something than to use it to help someone else!!!


  7. Do they need non-needle syringes? When we were in the hospital with our son he got liquid medicine via feeding tube. The medicine came in plastic syringes, the kind that just had a small plastic opening on the end, not a metal needle. The hospital had to use one per medicine for insurance reasons but we saved them for later use. We ended up being in the hospital for months so we have hundreds of these syringes that only got used once and are washable and good to use again. Our son is doing well enough that we went from 6 medicines to 2 so I think we won’t need them and have been looking for a group that might.


  8. This project has ended. When you click on the link to find out where To send the bottles it says the project isn’t in existence anymore.


  9. I clicked on the link from:
    The Malawi Project, Inc.
    3314 Van Tassel Drive
    Indianapolis, IN
    And the update that was posted on the site is as follows:
    “UPDATE – DECEMBER 20, 2015 – AFTER REACHING MORE THAN 1 MILLION PILL CONTAINERS THIS PARTICULAR PROGRAM HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED. The Malawi Project Board of Directors has turned its attention to (1) famine relief, (2) getting medical supplies, including 30 kidney dialysis machines, to Malawi as well as another shipment of over 500 wheelchairs and, (3) gaining the funds from contributors to build a new birthing center south of the capital city of Lilongwe. Thank you for your support of the pill container program and please continue with us on future projects.”


  10. I don’t understand do you need the empty medine bottles or not we were doing this as a Mission Project from our church.
    Please let me know as soon as possible


  11. The Malawi Project ended 12/2015. I have been collecting mine and have a large number of bottles. I finally decided to send them, but googled it and found out it had ended. I would really like to donate them and continue saving them for anyone that could use them. I’m trying to find a group now.


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