Recognizing that our health is intricately tied to the health of our environment (both locally and of our planet as a whole), we have taken measures to reduce our impact on the environment. We all are completely dependent on our environment eating food, drinking water and breathing air. Therefore, any toxins in our environment will eventually end up in us. In the past, we have assumed that whatever toxins and garbage we make will get diluted out to the point of irrelevance once they are disposed of. However, this is not the case. Increasingly, the recognition that we are becoming a toxic soup is growing. From the hundreds of man-made chemicals in each of our bodies, to the drugs in our waterways (and, therefore, us), and the heavy metals released into the air that end up in our waterways and food supply, it is imperative that we refrain from contributing to the excessive release of toxins into our environment. Here are some of the ways that we have reduced our impact (most we have done from the beginning of this office):
We minimize the use of drugs. With drug residues polluting most drinking sources, it is clear that the absurd amount of drugs we are dumping into our systems and livestock is not only harmful to us but also to all living things. Many of the drugs in use aren’t metabolized and are excreted unchanged or are metabolized into active byproducts that are excreted into the toilet where many aren’t removed by sewage processing and then are released back into the rivers and waterways we depend on. Even when things are removed by sewage treatment plants, most of the things removed are simply sterilized and sold to factory farms as “biosolids” to be used as fertilizer for conventionally grown crops, thus coming back to haunt us again.
Therefore, we reduce the amount of drugs in the environment by using as few as possible and getting people off drugs they are on when feasible.
In addition, by preventing disease and hospitalization, we reduce the amount of drugs that will be used in the future.
We reduce our use of toxic compounds by using environmentally friendly options whenever possible.
During our office remodeling, we replaced the aging carpet in the front with a recycled modular carpeting so that when an area becomes soiled beyond cleaning or damaged, that section may be simply pulled up and replaced and the old carpet returned to the manufacturer for recycling.
The non-carpeted floor in the back is made of planks of Marmoleum (a natural flooring made of linseed) or cork (a renewable resource), which can be replaced individually if needed.
IV tubing and bags are all latex-free and DEHP-free, reducing both risk of allergy and exposure to phthalate plasticizers in patients and the environment. DEHP is a phthalate plasticizer that has been implicated in obesity, hormone disruption, fetal defects, and cardiac problems and it accumulates in the body.
We do not use any “antibacterial” products containing Triclosan, a persistent broad-spectrum antimicrobial that forms dioxins in surface water and is a hormone disruptor that accumulates in fat. Multiple studies have demonstrated that regular soap is just as effective in removing bacteria from hands.
We do not use any mercury-containing medical equipment in the office.
We recycle everything we can.
You may notice blue paper recycling bins in the office for regular paper without any patient information.
Paper with patient information is all shredded and then recycled.
Nearly all of the injectables we use are vitamins and so the glass bottles are recyclable. Glass that contained drugs or biohazards are not recyclable and so, once again, by using nutrients instead of drugs we are reducing our impact on the environment.
Most of the bottles our vitamins come in are in glass or recyclable plastic bottles. Unfortunately, there are no recyclable plastic lids available currently.
We use as much recycled material as possible. Post-consumer content ensures that there is a market for paper that you bring in for recycling and lowers the number of trees that are made into paper.
All paper we use is recycled, the vast majority is 100% recycled with at least 95% post-consumer content. Even the envelopes are made of recycled paper.
All toilet paper and facial tissues are 100% recycled with at least 95% post-consumer content.
We reduce our use of resources.
We use as little energy as we can get away with. Most electricity comes from coal that releases mercury into the air (and then our water) when burned, while the demand for coal drive the destruction of land (including mountaintop removal mining where entire mountains are flattened) and pollution of waterways with toxic residues.
We use natural light as much as is feasible in our office.
We use low-voltage lights that not only reduce electricity use but also reduce heat residue, requiring less cooling.
We open the windows and use fresh air as much as possible to maintain a comfortable environment without excessive use of heating/cooling.
Computers are all low-energy and all monitors are LCD which are dramatically lower in energy use than CRT monitors.
Medical records are all kept electronically (as well as securely and redundantly), reducing the paper used in the office and reducing the storage space needed. This also reduces the time and energy required to track down errant charts and keeps your data available at our fingertips and lowers the risk of loss.
Dr. Sickels walks to work whenever possible.
If you are interested in other ways to reduce the impact of health care on the environment, please see Health Care Without Harm.