These days, sustainability is a major issue, not only for the future of the natural world but for the future of humanity as well. Human health and the environment are closely linked, and we now know that climate change will have a major negative impact on the health of people living all over the world.
Individuals can do their part to live greener, more sustainable lives, but businesses and organizations in all sectors, including healthcare, have an enormous responsibility as well. These organizations often have very large “carbon footprints” and contribute to climate change more than anyone individual ever could.
Knowing that climate change is causing all kinds of health problems for people globally, from respiratory problems due to pollution and wildfires to heatstroke to trauma and chronic stress, healthcare organizations have a duty to create eco-friendly facilities for patients. Outdated facilities are wasteful and only help to speed up the devastating consequences of climate change.
By implementing sustainable changes, patients can enjoy improved air quality and other benefits while organizations can reduce their impact and even save money on energy costs. Here are some ideas for creating an eco-friendly healthcare facility.
Easy Ways for Healthcare Facilities to Become Greener
Even healthcare organizations that can’t afford to make big infrastructure changes, such as installing solar power or buying new equipment, can make smaller, yet meaningful changes. On a large scale, these simple swaps can make a big difference for the health of the planet and humans everywhere. Your organization might consider:
Serving more sustainable, organic, and plant-based food
Many healthcare facilities must serve meals to patients and family members. Why not make them healthier and more sustainable? Organic, plant-based food is growing in popularity because it’s better for our bodies and the planet.
This is an easy swap if your facility serves food—you just change your menu and suppliers! And if you serve more plant-based meals, the cost shouldn’t change much because you’ll be buying less meat. It’s a win-win!
Implementing composting and recycling programs
We should be reusing as many of our resources as we possibly can. If your facility throws everything out by default, consider implementing composting and recycling programs. While you won’t be able to eliminate all trash, you should be able to reduce the amount of waste heading into the landfill and make a positive impact.
Swapping in energy-efficient lights
Getting rid of inefficient lightbulbs is a quick and easy task that should be at the top of the list for facility improvements. Just switching over to more efficient bulbs is a great way to reduce energy use and reduce costs. Even if you have a large facility, this step shouldn’t take long!
Using eco-friendly cleaning supplies
Remember, just about all the products we use go down the drain and eventually end up in waterways. Harsh chemicals might get things clean, but there are many hazards associated with them for the environment and human health.
Switching over to eco-friendly cleaning supplies is another easy swap that can make a big difference. Many individuals who have adopted a more sustainable lifestyle have already made this important change!
Maintain your equipment
Old, poorly-maintained equipment is more likely to waste energy and break down more frequently. Prevent this by monitoring your energy usage and equipment, and don’t forget to have routine maintenance done on a set schedule!
Consider Hiring a Sustainability Specialist or Consultant
If you have more in the budget to work with on sustainability projects, it can be very worthwhile to hire a sustainability consultant to help you decide on the best initiatives for your facility. Every organization is different and a sustainability specialist will help you make the most of your budget and create the most impactful changes.
Make Sustainability a Priority
As the climate crisis continues to worsen, it’s never been more important for healthcare organizations to go green. Patients come to healthcare facilities to maintain or improve their health and they will appreciate it if you make sustainability a priority.
Choose your initiatives carefully and see where sustainability could make your facility more efficient in order to get buy-in from employees. Making these initiatives a team effort and offering ongoing education will help in creating lasting change and strengthen your organizational values.