If you or someone you know gets injured, it often means stocking up on medical gear such as crutches, braces, boots and walkers. And while you’re usually elated once those devices are no longer needed, what to do with them after the injury heals can be a bit of a head-scratcher.
Reader Sara Wise posed this recycling query to us on Facebook after her grandson recovered from injuries sustained during a car accident. If you’ve also wondered about what to do with old medical gear, read on for a few recycling solutions.
Although crutches may sound like too niche of a material to have prevalent recycling solutions available, a surprising number of organizations will gladly take your gently used crutches and distribute them to others in need.
Crutches 4 Africa, an international project of the Mountain Foothills Rotary Club in Evergreen, Colo., collects gently used crutches and distributes them to polio survivors in Africa.
The organization also accepts canes, walkers and wheelchairs, and they’ve distributed 51,000 of these items in four African countries since 2011. Click here for a list of collection sites across the U.S.
Based in New York City, the nonprofit Crutches 4 Kids collects both child- and adult-sized crutches and gives them away to physically disabled children around the world. The organization offers 20 drop-off locations for used crutches in New York City; Tarrytown, N.Y.; and Englewood, N.J.
San Francisco–based ReCares collects used durable medical equipment, such as crutches, canes, wheelchairs and walkers, and gives them away to low-income elderly residents. The organization offers collection points in San Francisco, Oakland and San Rafael, Calif.
If none of these organizations offer drop-off locations near you, Goodwill will also gladly accept your used crutches, as will most churches and senior centers. Just be sure to call ahead first so you don’t waste a trip.
Next page: Wheelchairs, walkers and scooters