We are all becoming increasingly aware of our critical responsibility to protect the environment. Whether it’s pollution, plastic or plant life, the need for us all to play our part is clear.
We’ve been hard at work to address our role as a clinic, and hope our patients will notice a few differences over the months ahead. In a bid to minimise our impact on the environment, we have been considering the clinic’s carbon footprint and finding ways to reduce it.
Our patients will know that we have always tried to be environmentally conscious. However, as a dental practice we will always prioritise your welfare, so a responsibility to the wider environment will come second to regulatory imperatives such as cross-infection control. An example of this would be when we reopened in June following the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, we had to introduce more disposable PPE and continue to use these measures.
Nevertheless, we still believe there are alternative actions we can take to mitigate our environmental impact and find ways to “give back” or contribute to good causes. To help us maximise the impact and effectiveness of our actions, we have decided to work with a consultant who is helping us implement a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme – addressing our responsibilities to people, the environment and our community.
Our work started in the autumn of 2020. One of the first steps has been to appoint a green champion and this is Maria, our administrator, who has embraced the role with great enthusiasm. Her early wins include a move to products which are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified, such as recycled paper and cups, buying tissues made from bamboo and Fairtrade tea and organic milk.
She says: “We ensure that everything we buy is in line with the values we have committed to. We have a structure in place which involves regular meetings and targets and helps us keep moving forward.”
Another easy win will be a focus on waste. Clinical waste is an inevitability in a dental practice and cannot be recycled, but we’ll be scrutinising everything else to make sure we recycle as much as possible. Any time we upgrade our furniture or technology, we aim to find a charity which might be able to upcycle the things we no longer need.
Resource provided by CSR consultant, Mark Topley
We have many green plans for the future, including fundraising and have decided that one of our chosen charities will be Bridge2aid, which trains healthcare workers in East Africa to diagnose and treat emergency dental problems. Bridge2aid ticks two boxes for us: we wanted to support a charity with a dental remit and Bridge2aid does a lot of work in East Africa, which is where Dr Chatoo was born.
Another innovation on the agenda is the introduction of a recycling point. Patients and staff will be able to leave old toothbrushes and we will make sure they go to a processing centre to be upcycled. We love our pink branded toothbrushes, which in the past were available to patients to use prior to their appointment, but, being made of plastic and a disposable item, they have now been phased out.
Next year we’ll also be thinking about wildlife. We may be on the first floor of a West End property with no garden, but that doesn’t stop us caring about insect life! We love the idea of planting up some window boxes and attracting bees.
Some businesses are able to introduce lift sharing or cycle to work schemes, but for us in central London that would be a challenge. As Dr Chatoo walks to work, his journey is 100% carbon neutral and he off-sets the travel of the rest of the team!