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Earth Day and Healthcare

A call to environmental action within healthcare.  

The 22nd of April marks Earth Day, which is observed in nearly 200 countries by over 1 billion people. With the theme this year being 'Planet vs. Plastics', Earth Day aims to raise awareness of the harms of plastic pollution for human and planetary health.  

While more than 50 countries, including the UK, have called for an end to plastic pollution by 2040, on 1 July 2022, the NHS (National Health Service) became the first health system to embed net zero into legislation through the Health and Care Act 2022.  

Healthcare professionals play a crucial role in this global effort and can contribute to environmental protection and sustainability.  

Here's how healthcare professionals can make a difference for a cleaner, greener planet.  

Reducing Medical Waste 

Hospitals and healthcare facilities produce a significant amount of waste every day. Healthcare professionals can help reduce waste by promoting practices like proper waste segregation, recycling whenever feasible, and using reusable equipment and materials whenever possible. For instance, something as simple as using digital records instead of paper can substantially decrease paper waste while also ensuring the safe disposal of hazardous medical waste. 

Energy Conservation  

While healthcare facilities are energy-intensive environments, staff can support energy conservation by turning off lights and equipment when not in use. This will promote energy-efficient practices and advocate for the use of renewable energy sources like solar power.  

Water Conservation  

Water is a precious resource and healthcare facilities consume vast amounts daily. By reporting and fixing leaks, using water-saving devices, and encouraging responsible water usage among staff and patients, healthcare professionals can contribute to water conservation.  

Green Procurement 

Choosing products with minimal packaging, opting for recyclable or biodegradable materials, and selecting equipment with high energy efficiency ratings are just some of the ways that you as healthcare professionals can make a significant impact on the environment.  

Education and Advocacy  

Lastly, healthcare professionals can use their platforms to educate colleagues, patients, and their communities about environmental issues and the importance of sustainable practices.  

With the influence and reach that healthcare professionals have, advocating for policies that promote environmental safekeeping within healthcare institutions can make a substantial difference in driving positive change.  

As we celebrate Earth Day and beyond, let us remember that small actions can lead to meaningful outcomes when it comes to environmental conservation.  

Healthcare professionals are not just healers of people; they can also be champions for the health of our planet.