Recycling Your First Aid Kit

My work with small people means that I am required to keep my Paediatric First Aid Certificate bang up to date and have a well stocked First Aid Kit at all times.  I believe that children should be outdoors as much as possible and that they should be encouraged to take real risks in real environments.  Nevertheless, I have never had to administer anything more taxing in the way of First Aid other than kissing better the odd grazed knee.  The only time I’ve ever really used the contents of my First Aid kit for medical purposes is to bandage up wounds and torn paw pads on the dog.  This wouldn’t seem wasteful if it wasn’t for the fact that First Aid kits go off, or rather they expire.  After three years the sterility of dressings  can no longer be guaranteed.

I can’t help feeling that Florence Nightingale would have been only too happy to have my out-of-date dressings.  Even in this day and age I think that in the event of an emergency they would be better than nothing.  Sterile or not, they would still be cleaner than any other fabric I might find lying around to press into use.  Sadly it is not cost effective to replace individual items in a kit, so every so often I find myself having to buy entirely new kit.  This means finding a sensible use for the old kit.  So, what to do?

Well a few kits, minus anything sharp – safety pins are always useful anyway - have simply been given to small people to play with.  I’m glad to report that many a happy hour has been whiled away mummifying teddy bears.  I’d like to think the best use would be to use them for training purposes, older children really love learning how to tie slings etc.  However, as with odd socks – there are only so many sock puppets you can make! - at the end of the day you may still find yourself with a lot of kit that may come in handy for other stuff.

It drives me mad when recipes, usually for preserving or brewing, call for clean muslin to strain stuff through.  I’ve never had clean muslin, or indeed dirty  muslin, I’m not even sure where to get it from.  But I’m no longer bothered because, as I discovered when making my elderflower champagne, a large if expired triangular calico bandage does the job just as well.

Yesterday I had another light-bulb moment as I pulled a rather sad looking blanket off the top of the compost heap.  The blanket itself is beginning to decompose and probably not doing the most effective job of keeping heat in.  It is also a bit slimy and unpleasant to handle.  I have seen, believe it or not, advertisements for ‘compost duvets.’  Like most people who like getting their compost (and much more besides) for nothing I wasn’t ever likely to fork out for one of these shiny quilts.  What could I use to keep my heap warm as the cold weather approaches?  Well as I mused on what to do with all my first aid stuff, I realised  I seem to have more foil rescue blankets than I’m ever really likely to use.  So here is the heap looking very cosy and super space-age shiny to boot.

Snug compost at Sustainable Living Project Do you have any other suggestions for reusing my First Aid kit?


If you would like to recycle your first aid kits then Aid To Hospitals Worldwide do accept donations from individual households, please send any of your supplies to:

Aid to Hospitals Worldwide

PO Box 603

Bury St Edmunds


IP33 9DF

These guys do fantastic work to ensure that medical equipment no longer required in this country is put to good use all over the world wherever it is needed.

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20 comments to Recycling Your First Aid Kit

  • Fabby article; I’d never thought of the need to recycle a first aid kit before – as I don’t have to look after other people’s kids I can just keep my old stuff and take my own risks, but I really appreciate the challenges you face.

    Excellent ideas – thank you! I’m going to feature this post on our site at the end of the month as I think it’s very inspiring!

  • Hello – I’ve just found your blog and have enjoyed having a read through. I love the idea of using a first aid blanket on the compost heap but as yet I have no inspiration for anything else. I agree with you though – an out of date dressing is better than no dressing at all and most of mine are well out of date. As for muslins – you need a son who used a muslin as a cuddly. I had a load of them and whilst he still insists on going to bed with one, others have been used in the kitchen together with an upside-down chair and 4 bits of string for a very cheap and effective jelly bag and stand.

    Rosie x

  • Hello again ! I had a thought as I dozed off last night. Could you cut the blankets into thin strips and make them into bird scarers?

    Rosie x

  • goo

    Hi Rosie. You’ll have me recycling teddies next! I like your jelly bag arrangement, I think for most of us straining jellies requires a little resourcefulness.

  • goo

    I expect so but I’m stilll unreeling old video tapes for that purpose. The foil blankets are quite hard to cut though, they’re tougher than they look. I think I will really just have to buy less rubbish in the first place!

  • goo

    Thanks Mrs Green. Although I must say a lot of my recycling efforts have been inspired by in the first place. Are we recycling inspiration?!!

  • Thanks for the idea of triangular bandages for the use of muslin bags. I was at a loss until I read your blog. What a great help. Many thanks

  • :D You’re sweet – thank you; I love sharing other great ideas with our readers. Your post is featured today – thanks so much for the great article.

  • goo

    Glad to be of help Paul.
    Very kind of you Mrs Green to say so and thanks for sharing the post with your readers!

  • I LOVE the idea of using old bandages to strain pulp through – I’ve also never had any muslin (well I think I may have a very dusty bit at the back of the wardrobe). I had absolutely no idea that bandages “go off”, though like you I suspect that they would still be way cleaner than anything else you could make an emergency dressing from.

  • Stephen

    I was not aware that non-sterile first aid items, such as triangular bandages and especially foil shock blankets, had an expiry date.

  • goo

    Neither did I Stephen until I attended a recent first aid training session! I don’t think first aid items actually have an expiry date as such, it’s more a ‘best before’ type thing. The foil shock blankets I think should be okay, but I only need so many of them, I work with small children not in a war zone!

  • sandra

    We give ours to the Guides and Scouts to use for First Aid practise.

  • goo

    Great idea Sandra, thanks. Our daughter has just joined the Scouts, I’ll bear this in mind.

  • Robin Forder

    Sterile first aid items do have an expiry date, and, according to correct procedure, they shouldn’t be used afterwards. I’ve just checked through the first aid box at work, and there are 11 medium bandages, four eye bandages and a number of moist cleansing tissues out of date. The wipes can be used as computer wipes, I suppose. I’m not sure about the rest; perhaps I could put them in the clothes recycling bin at Sainsbury’s, as they are cloth after all.

  • goo

    Or start making your own wines and jams Robin! Thanks for the info and the comment.

  • pre-doc-1

    if you have any medical supplies, such as found in a common first aid kit, it would have huge benifits to charities aboard that use out of date stock, as they have nothing else to use, sending a few out of date bandages can save a life, seriously! if you feel that this is an option i have a list of medical facilites that i work with that are i need of any medical supplies regardless of damage or date. :)

  • goo

    Wow, yes that would be great. Please leave a list, I’m sure lots of people would be interested. Thanks for your input, much appreciated!

  • Jenny Watt

    Hi I work for Disney and we have out of date medical supplies that I would like to pass on rather than just bin. Being a big recycler I hate to just dump. Please could you supply a list of charities. Thanks.

  • goo

    Hi Jenny, I hope to publish an update shortly with relevant list. Thanks for stopping by.

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