We are in the midst of a climate emergency, and our oceans are filling with plastic. We all have a part to play in protecting the environment, but unfortunately healthcare as an industry has a lot of catching up to do. I reflected on this, and started to look in greater detail at the impact that I as a healthcare professional have, and how I can make changes.
SINGLE USE PLASTIC
Plastic is everywhere in a hospital. Dressings, syringes, gloves, masks, packaging, the list goes on. Some single-use plastic is unavoidable, particularly where it protects us from infection, but some of the plastic use is avoidable. I have stopped using single-use coffee cups and food containers, and encourage you to do the same. I have stopped using plastic sticky tape in favour of paper gummed tape in packaging.
Where possible I have switched products to reusable or non-plastic containing products, and aim to recycle where possible (packaging). I have switched 3D printing custom orthoses reducing waste in manufacturing by 99%. Many of the orthoses I use can be recycled, and I would be happy to advise on and organise this for you.
Travel is a large part of my work carbon footprint travelling between clinics and to conferences and events. I have committed to cycling or walking where possible, and taking trains to events further afield. Where driving or flying is required, I will offset the carbon produced.
I have switched to low-energy lighting and appliances in my home office, and switched to an electricity supplier using 100% renewable energy. I will aim to influence the organisations I work with to do the same.
In addition to a commitment to reducing single use plastics, I am also aiming to go paperless where possible, using electronic records and banking. I am working to find suppliers that use renewable energy to power their servers. I prefer to issue invoices and reports electronically to save paper further. Where paper is used, this is disposed of securely and recycled.
Where possible, I use a 3D scanner instead of physical impressions (plaster casts and foam boxes) for foot orthoses to save waste further.