7 ways doctors and healthcare set-ups can go green

M3 India Newsdesk Jan 17, 2020

It is high time we became more conscious and eco-friendly with our choices to slow down the damage we cause to the environment. As a doctor, too, there are several ways in which you and your clinic can go green. Read on to know the 7 small changes you can initiate around you to do your bit for the planet.

Greta Thunberg, a school-going girl and an environmental activist on climate change has made many of us take note of the reality. If you have already been conscious of the plight of the environment, you must have thought about going green in every manner possible. But have you gone eco-friendly in your professional set-up yet? Through this article, we give you a list of ways in which you can fulfil your responsibility of a conscious citizen at your workplace as well.

Install bins for different types of waste

Segregating different types of waste at source is a great place to start. Installing bins for wet, dry and bio-medical waste in appropriate places, with labels in English and the regional language can help.

With most municipalities now actively recycling dry waste and using wet waste for composting, your efforts will certainly contribute to the change in the environment. Also, by seeing your clinic ensuring correct waste disposal practices, your staff and patients will learn good habits, too.

Introduce a ‘reuse’ policy

Instil a habit in your staff of reusing all that they can and is ethically permissible.

For example, folders created for older patients (who no longer visit your clinic and whose records need to be filed away in a separate section) could be designed in a way that a mere change in the label and flap or cover can make them as good as new. These can then be used for newer patients.

Regular cleaning and maintenance of the place can further reduce the frequency at which you may need to replace items such as, equipment, appliances, carpets, upholstery, etc.

Invest in reusable and eco-friendly glasses for patients and utensils like cups and plates in the canteen/pantry. You could even opt for bed linen and upholstery made from sustainable fabric.

Switch to paperless processes

A lot of processes in clinics and hospitals involve use of paper. It is not practical to use recyclable paper for clinical use, so instead invest in technology that can convert your medical records to digital form.

You can choose to have a website or a mobile application for patient registration, appointments, announcements, etc. If you are ready to go that extra mile, provide every patient a login ID and password, where you can enter their medical records and upload a prescription and they can even make payment electronically.

Opt for energy-efficient appliances

Energy Star-rating is something we all are aware of. Appliances and lights come with this rating, which stands for the energy efficiency they promise. Replace defunct appliances and lights with those that are graded for their energy efficiency.

If all of us did this for appliances at home and commercial spaces, it will not only bring down our power consumption and bill amounts, but also reduce the impact that continued use of older appliances could have had on the environment.

Encourage smart use of appliances and technology

A simple act of switching off lights, fans, air conditioners, computers, etc. can be easily practiced. Putting up small signs reminding the staff to do that is one idea.

Turning down the brightness of monitors, starting machines only when needed, adjusting the thermostat or air conditioner as per need and not running it on a standard setting- all these are small steps to reduce energy consumption.

Educate patients on correct medicine disposal methods

Medicines are after all, chemicals and hence, call for suitable disposal methods in order to avoid contamination of soil and water. In fact, improper disposal of drugs can also be hazardous to humans and animals.

As health professionals, you should educate your visiting patients either verbally or through posters on how flushing down medicines or tossing them into the waste bin can cause contamination. The poster should also contain information on measures to dispose them correctly or pass them on to pharmacies or trust-run clinics for charity.

Say no to non-eco-friendly materials

While some non-biodegradable materials that you may have to use for your duty are irreplaceable, going green where you can, is the least you can do for the planet.

For wxample, get rid of plasticware, Styrofoam, melamine utensils, etc., because, once they break, they become useless. Replace them with safer alternatives that are also sustainable.

By undertaking initiatives of going green, you make way for a healthier environment for your patients. Moreover, your green set-up could influence thousands of people to do their bit. But doctor, it all begins with you. So try implementing one or all of these initiatives and share your stories with the people around you.

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