When my staff and I first sat down to discuss our “green” initiatives after beginning the GreenDOC™ process, we were surprised to find we already had several in place that didn’t fit any existing categories listed in the program. As it turned out, we were able to earn bonus points (the most any office has achieved yet!) for these initiatives in the “Innovation” portion of the GreenDOC™ program.
Here are a few of our “innovative” eco-friendly practices that you can try in your own practice:
- Because of the deleterious effects of refined sugar (not only on oral health but on overall health), we have eliminated refined sugar, as well as most artificial sweeteners, at our hot beverage station in the reception room. Instead, we offer local honey, stevia, and xylitol. We also offer green teas and herbal teas as alternatives to coffee and black tea.
- When we dispose of unused or expired chemicals (replacing them, of course, with eco-friendly options!), I dispose of them at our municipality’s monthly hazardous waste drop off.
- We’ve switched to rechargeable batteries for our “mice” and camera flashes, etc. When we dispose of non-rechargeable batteries, we package them separately for pick up by our weekly recycling service. Our recycling service will also pick up computers and electronics.
- We turn in our used ink and toner cartridges to Staples or Office Depot for store credit. Our recycling service will also pick them up.
- Because I recently left a large, multi-office group practice and built out the space adjoining my husband’s dental office, he and I save resources by sharing a break room (we stagger our lunch hours), dental lab, staff and patient toilets, private office and bathroom, parking lot, as well as compressor and vacuum system.
- And did I mention I drive a Prius? And that my husband and I carpool to and from work as often as possible?
I’m excited that we have recently implemented a few others initiatives since we completed our GreenDOC™ Gold certification:
- We recycle oral care products through Terracycle. While we encourage patients to bring their travel toothbrush to their orthodontic appointments, many forget. We provide (as do most orthodontists) pre-pasted disposable toothbrushes at our tooth brushing station. Though they are xylitol sweetened, I’ve never found any that are made of recycled plastic or are biodegradable. But now we recycle them! We also accept and encourage patients to bring their discarded toothbrushes, spent toothpaste tubes, and empty floss containers from home so we can recycle these as well.
- We now have reusable shopping bags imprinted with our logo to send home the Waterpik toothbrush, flosser and other oral care products we provide when patients get their braces.
- At debanding, we give patients a BPA-free water bottle filled with xylitol-sweetened gum and candies. These bags and bottles are now available for other promos and campaigns in our office as well.
What new or different green practices can you share when you get certified as a GreenDOC™ practice?
Dr. Marie Farrar is an EDA member and GreenDOC™ Gold Certified Orthodontist located in Chattanooga, TN