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Earth Keeper Clean Sweep yields more than a ton of drugs


People of all faiths from around Michigan’s Upper Peninsula turned in tens of thousands of pills, liquids and personal care products including narcotics with an estimated street value of half a million dollars during the third annual Clean Sweep.

“This was a wonderful event, a perfect marriage of two concerns -- care of the environment and the need to remove drugs that might otherwise be abused from the community,” said Pastor Jonathan Schmidt of the First Lutheran Church in Gladstone, Michigan.

Assistance was provided by the Michigan Pharmacists Association and numerous law enforcement agencies including the DEA and Michigan Sheriff’s Association.

Clean Sweep was sponsored by nine faith traditions, the Superior Watershed Partnership, the Cedar Tree Institute, and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

Bishop James A. Kelsey of Northern Michigan said the support of so many faith traditions shows “a kind of spiritual leadership that connects our faith with the material world.”

“It’s amazing what impact a few dedicated people can have,” Kelsey said. “We have become a catalyst for a movement much bigger than our demographics, and more far reaching than we might have imagined possible.”

Northern Michigan Episcopalians provided sites, volunteers and enthusiastic support for the roughly 2,000 people who turned in items for themselves and for family and friends.

“People were very grateful for this pharmaceutical collection,” said Deacon Gert Corrigan of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Iron Mountain. “We were busy educating people how properly to dispose of outdated drugs, about how the old way of doing it -- flushing drugs down the toilet -- is affecting the environment because it’s showing up in our water sources, in fish and other species.”

The pharmaceuticals were taken to an EPA-licensed incinerator near St. Louis, Missouri.


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