September 16, 2019
The “go green” movement has been sweeping over the nation for the last decade, but it can be overwhelming for many business owners to adopt more eco-friendly practices. The goal of the movement is to be aware of our impact on the environment and reduce the amount of waste we produce as individuals, and in our businesses. While typically overlooked, the medical and dental industries play a significant role in producing and contributing to the amount of waste brought to landfills. Fortunately for dentists, there are many simple and practical ways to reduce their environmental footprint. Being a dentist is a revered position, and practitioners should make it their responsibility to ensure that their clinics are operating in the eco-friendliest way possible.
Eco-friendly dentistry encompasses the protection of patients, workers, the surrounding community and the environment by implementing green design and operations. One of the most common “fixes” for dental practices is to start monitoring the amount of hazardous waste their clinic produces. Hazardous waste must be placed into a red trash bag and be incinerated. This type of disposal is extremely harmful to the environment and is extremely costly for clinics. However, there are steps you can take to minimize the amount of hazardous waste your clinic produces. It is recommended you re-train your employees on what hazardous waste is, make hazardous waste bins the smallest in the office, and place them furthest away from the practitioner’s chair.
Clinics are also encouraged to reduce their use of disposable items and consider purchasing reusable items instead. The implementation of a plan for proper disinfection of work areas can reduce the use of head covers, paper covers, and blue tape. In addition, switching from toxic disinfectant sprays to environmentally friendly disinfectants such as, Seventh Generation products, are just as effective and non-toxic. The clinic can also adopt reusable materials such as stainless-steel suction tips, washable cloth bibs, and reusable protective eyewear.
Another significant area for reducing waste is through the utilization of digital dentistry in your clinic. The conversation of x-ray imaging to digital radiographs, using digital charting, and implementing CAD/CAM systems would greatly reduce the amount of waste your clinic produces. In addition, the transition from paper charts to electronic health records alone could save an enormous amount of resources and would save your clinic money on supplies. There are very simple changes you can implement that will make a large change in your business such as: purchasing products made from recycled materials buying products packaged in recycled materials and buying in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging. Moreover, proper inventory procedures can help to reduce waste. It is recommended to rotate the oldest products to the front line to prevent the expiration of dental materials.
It is also extremely important for dentists to realize that they have a significant role in educating their patients about oral health. Encouraging patients to limit their use of water during oral care, purchasing bamboo toothbrushes, encourage recycling of oral products, and talking to patients about switching to natural toothpastes can greatly encourage them to implement an eco-friendlier oral health routine.
Attorneys: William Barrett, CEO and Casey Gocel
Category: Practice Purchases