With a few small changes, your office can become environmentally responsible without sacrificing patient care. Medical offices are notorious for the large amounts of waste created. The combination of custom appliances, high sanitation standards, constant patient interaction, and detailed record-keeping make it difficult to run a business without the use of non-recyclable, or single-use products.
Single-use plastic items are convenient and often necessary for patient care. But it is a common misconception that proper infection control demands wasteful and polluting practices. Our planet is burning through resources quicker than we can replenish them, so we must find a way to be more eco-conscious. Over half of the top 10 items clogging the Earth’s oceans can be found in the average office waiting room (including snack wrappers, drink cups, coffee lids, straws, and beverage cans).
By choosing to make a few small changes your office can become more environmentally responsible. Here are some suggestions:
Eco-Friendly Building Solutions
Dental and orthodontic offices tend to offer more open hours than other businesses to accommodate patient’s schedules. With longer hours, having an energy-efficient building can contribute to your goal of becoming more environmentally responsible…and it might save your some money!
Here are a few features and improvements to consider for your office:
- Install hands-free faucets and dryers in bathrooms.
- Upgrade to LED lighting throughout the building.
- Invest in high-efficiency printers, computers, and TV screens (and switch off when not in use).
- Install a dishwasher so you can use real dishes and cups in your break room and waiting area.
- Decorate with real plants. They help filter the air, and never go out of style!
Environmentally Friendly Patient Perks
You don’t have to sacrifice the patient experience as you become more eco-friendly. A couple quick swaps can reduce the amount of garbage created while still offering your patients the sense of comfort they’ve grown to know and love. Try these simple suggestions in your office to become more eco-conscious AND increase your practice branding:
Drink Station: Consider traditional coffee makers and water pitchers instead of single-use coffee pods or water bottles. Your patients will appreciate the drink offerings just the same! If you have a dishwasher in your building, you can swap out single-use plastic or paper cups for real glasses and mugs for a totally waste-free drink station.
Take-Home Bags: At the end of most dental or orthodontic visits, patients go home with a bag of things that will help them keep their smile healthy. Move away from single-use plastics by providing a branded, reusable bag they use time and time again. Also, consider replacing your plastic toothbrush offering with a bamboo toothbrush. They are eco-friendly and bio-degradable. Provide your patients with things that will have value for years to come, instead of items will end up in next week’s garbage.
Sustainable Medical Office Solutions
Of course, the cornerstone to a successful practice are the beautiful, healthy smiles created. At Clear Blue Smiles, we are constantly exploring the intersection between innovative orthodontic technology and being environmentally responsible. Fortunately, there are all kinds of products available that are better for patients’ health and our planet!
Implementing digital record-keeping reduces paper use, decreases the amount of misplaced files, and improves the quality of records. Not to mention, it takes up less office space.
Another environmentally beneficial upgrade your office can make is to have an on-site laboratory. Having an on-site lab will allow your practice to create custom appliance quicker. This also reduces the amount of cardboard used since these items no longer need to be shipped to your office.
If you aren’t already, try using Autoclaving to reduce the use of disposable plastics like suction tips, impression trays and the like. Autoclaving is the most effective and reliable means of sterilizing laboratory materials. Materials and disinfected and sterilized with a combination of steam, pressure and time so they can be used again.
Your office can also choose to partner with eco-friendly vendors. When searching for new vendors, seek out those with similar environmental values. Rising tides lift all boats. By supporting businesses that invest in the future, we can raise the standard of care for the entire orthodontic industry!
Clear Blue Smiles was founded on the idea that we don’t have to sacrifice our planet’s future to provide great orthodontic care. We hope to encourage all dental and orthodontic practices to join our cause and contribute to cleaner oceans, a healthier planet, and happier smiles. For more information on how your practice can improve sustainability while utilizing cutting-edge orthodontic technology, reach out to our team and let us know how we can help!