Spring is in the air and along with it comes the urge to do spring cleaning, especially as it relates to our diabetes supplies! At least, we ought to be enthusiastic about this...

But from figuring out how best to dispose of old, expired supplies to attempting to organize the ones we need to keep, it can all be a bit daunting, depending on how cluttered both our calendars and our D-storage spots are.

For some, it’s dedicated dresser drawers or a kitchen cabinet, or clear storage bins stashed under the bed. For me, it's evolved over time: from a single three-drawer plastic organizer in the bedroom of my first apartment to the entire linen closet in our current house. Whatever method I’ve used, it always feels like there’s a little less chaos in my diabetes life when the supplies are neat, organized and I can find what I need quickly and easily. The trick is to find what works for you, whether it’s medium baskets, little boxes, labels or drawer organizers, and stick with it.

With all the recent talk of adopting Japanese de-clutter expert Marie Kondo’s approach when it comes to organizing and tidying up -- especially since her reality show recently came out on Netflix -- I figure there has to be a way for each of us gain control of all the diabetes stuff that inevitably piles up, and organize it in a way that "sparks joy" (or least stops doing the opposite).  

Personally, I order three months' worth of diabetes supplies at a time, so my closet badly needed some tidying.

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My first thought was: "Hey, let’s KonMari this closet!" Interestingly, you can’t follow that process entirely when tidying up diabetes supplies.

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For those uninitiated in the so-called KonMari Method, here’s a snapshot of how it works:

  1. Put everything in a pile
  2. Hold each item and see if it sparks joy, if it doesn’t spark joy get rid of it (after you’ve thanked it and said goodbye)
  3. Once you get rid of things, organize what remains 

You can just imagine the rabbit holes this could send you down when thinking about diabetes supplies “sparking joy”…. Right?!

But I tried anyway.

Step 1 was easy, I pulled everything out of the closet and piled it on the hallway floor.

Step 2 is where I tripped up, as nothing I held sparked joy. Seriously, come on… how much joy do alcohol wipes and lancets spark?! Knowing that nothing in that closet was really going to give me joy but was necessary to manage my diabetes each day, I approached it by asking: Does this actually belong here? Is this something I will be using regularly to get on with the real joys in my life?

Some things got put in their proper places outside of my dedicated diabetes closet, and all the empty supply boxes found their way to the recycling. I realized I have been terrible about letting those empty boxes stack up in the back of my supply closet. Then finally, I was left with a pile of info sheets, some miscellaneous diabetes items (Frio cooling wallet, spare glucose meter, a handful of syringes) and a bunch of tiny boxes.

Step 3 is where you organize the stuff you chose to keep. Marie Kondo loves little boxes for organizing drawers and such, but for me little boxes were the whole problem. Medium-sized baskets ended up being my solution instead. A trip to the dollar store and $6 later, my organization system was ready to go.

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I sorted my test strip, lancet and alcohol wipe boxes into the baskets and organized them with the nearest expiration dates at the top to avoid having supplies expire on the shelf.

Here’s the finished product of how my supply closest turned out:

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Now the goal is to maintain this neat and clean supply closet by actually recycling the boxes when I’m done and continuing to sort new supplies by expiration date.

Overall, this was a fun little experiment that did motivate and allow me to organize and clean up for spring. Even if my pill vials still aren't sparking joy...

 

What to do with Old Diabetes Supplies?

Although I haven’t switched my diabetes treatment methods in years, others do switch pumps, CGMs or even meters and find themselves with leftover supplies that they can’t use any more. If you run across these supplies in your own spring cleaning, don’t hold onto them. You're not only creating clutter, but chances are there's a fellow PWD out there who could really use them. To donate, look into organizations that provide supplies to those in need, such as the Diabetes Emergency Response Coalition member groups.

Last year, we did a whole story on: Can You Recycle Diabetes Supplies? The short answer is, it isn't easy. Many device manufacturers have discontinued their own takeback recycling programs. But in #WeAreNotWaiting groups online, you can regularly find tales of those who've donated old transmitters and sensors to DIY-experimenters to reuse for testing and building purposes. 

When it comes to disposing of syringes, infusion sets, or lancets that have pokey-ends to them, the FDA has a handy resource on disposing of sharps supplies. We've also seen and heard stories from around the D-Community of crafting homemade sharps disposal vessels, from milk jugs to juice containers, many of which are of clear plastic with handwritten labels marking “sharp medical supplies” inside.

Now, we ask you, D- Community friends: Where do you keep your diabetes supplies? And what do you do with the old stuff you no longer need?

We've love to hear any tricks or tips you have for tidying up -- whether it's Marie Kondo's style or not!

Drop us a line on social media or by email and we'll look forward to sharing your tips within the community.