How the Healthcare Industry Can Be Kinder to the Planet

How the Healthcare Industry Can Be Kinder to the Planet

What used to be a fad has become a worldwide movement by individuals and corporations alike —everyone’s going green. While individuals can do things like drive their cars less and use eco-friendly lawn care solutions, it can be more of a challenge for corporations and companies to make positive changes. Policies need reviewing and testing to ensure that any changes implemented can continue on well after the initial start date.

These challenges are what have kept so many industries from switching completely to more eco-friendly alternatives. The healthcare industry is one of these groups because of the sheer amount of products they have to order and employees they have to teach. So how can the healthcare sector become more eco-friendly? There are some simple solutions that any hospital can make to help promote a greener workplace.

Implement Water Conservation Efforts

Almost everyone has the ability to cut back on their water usage, and this is especially true for large hospitals. There’s so much to keep up with that leaky faucets and running toilets might get overlooked. By performing a yearly or bi-yearly check on all water features in the hospital, water could be saved instead of wasted. Signs can also be put up to remind employees to limit their water usage during the day to just what they need.

Use Less Energy

Hospitals couldn’t run without energy, but that doesn’t mean they should use it wastefully. As an example of how hospitals can cut down on their energy consumption, Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut reduced its overall rate by 35 percent, saving 1.7 million kilowatt hours. Every hospital can do their part to analyze where their major energy is consumed and figure out ways to cut that down.

One important place to look for energy consumption is tools the hospital staff use on a daily basis. Machines that absorb large amounts of energy to run should be rethought. There may be other alternatives that could do as much good while cutting down on the overall energy used, and switching tools can even help the health of hospital employees. Hospitals should shift their focus toward upgrades in order to save more energy and reduce their carbon footprint.

Put Focus on Greener Waste Disposal Methods

A big part of running a hospital is keeping sterile equipment ready for anything, which means there are materials thrown out and replaced constantly. When totaled, US hospitals produce over 5.9 million tons of waste each year, so that number leads to the question of how this waste gets disposed. To avoid leaving medical waste in landfills, hospitals can recycle or use other green disposal methods to ensure what they do have to throw away isn’t going to hurt the earth.

Serve Local Food

One of the more bustling locations in any hospital is the cafeteria. Employees, patients and visitors all depend on it multiple times each day, but is that food actually hurting the environment? If shipped in from around the world, not only are chemicals used to help grow the food in a way that will preserve it longer, but a lot of gas gets burned to ship it to each hospital.

Instead, hospital staff should look for local food sources to stock their cafeteria. Nearby farmers and food vendors can contribute what they have to the hospital stock in return for prices that will be cheaper than having food shipped in from longer distances. This would be an easy eco-friendly and budget-friendly alternative.

The Future of Eco-Friendly Healthcare

When it comes to going eco-friendly, the healthcare sector can do its part by thinking outside the box and taking a second look at what gets used every day. From energy consumption to buying local foods, hospitals can go green and be more eco-friendly without compromising cost or patient care.



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3 Comments

  1. susan rudnicki

    I am a dental hygienist for the last 37 years. Increasingly, dentistry has switched from tools and instruments that could be heat sterilized, to plastic, one-use items—by the gazillion. It’s awful. The plastic, geared polishing heads that the hygienist uses for polishing the teeth, plastic sticky film covering switches and handles to substitute for wiping down with disinfectant, plastic saliva ejectors and synthetic (fossil fuel derived) over-garb that is thrown out, instead of cotton lab coats that can be laundered over and over. Thousands of pieces of supplies and gross amounts of packaging material used for repairing teeth are made of plastic. It’s horrific

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  2. MARTY bostic

    Health Canada is the body that controls quite a bit of what is happening in the environment. For example, they give their okay for the use of pesticides and herbicides on residential and public properties and even though they know the health risks to children, the elderly, and wildlife, they give their okay. What is the point of treating grass with chemicals, chemicals that endanger the health of children? I don’t understand this. So I think the Ministry of Health has to do some serious thinking about the use of chemicals not only on residential properties but also on public lands and even farm land. Because of the use of chemicals, our pollinators are in serious trouble and that makes our food supply questionable in the future. That is quite a gamble, We have more to lose than to gain with the use of toxic chemicals.

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  3. Leanne

    While the primary responsibility of hospitals us of course patient care there are things they can do to become a more eco friendly place. Such as sourcing food locally and making sure that the hospital is running a tight ship.

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