Friday, January 8, 2016 4:11 AM

Become a Green Champion!

I am proud to work for Community Medical Centers because we as an organization provide remarkable patient care every day.  We have an incredibly important role as the region’s largest healthcare provider and private employer.  For that reason, I believe it is our responsibility, individually and collectively, to be aware of our impact on the environment and be proactive to minimize that impact.

I started working at Community just over a year ago and I wondered for quite some time what I could do to make the office where I work more “green.”  I didn’t really know where to start. One day, I saw a post on the Forum about a Green Team and thought, “Ooh! I need to find out more about this!” 

It turns out the Green Team is also known as the Sustainability Value Analysis Team (S-VAT) whose mission is the following: “In support of Community Medical Center’s mission to improve the health status of the community, the Sustainability Value Analysis Team and Community Medical Centers executive leadership is committed to raising awareness of the connections between negative impacts to the environment and public health.” 

S-VAT has sponsored events like Earth Day and Food Day, and has had a significant financial ($162,800) and operational impact, helping save resources by finding more sustainable ways to deliver healthcare. The team has also developed a list of general guidelines for rethinking, reducing, reusing, repairing, and recycling - See these Green Guidelines:

 
Sustainability Value Analysis Team's
Green Guidelines

Whenever possible, Community Medical Centers will strive to adhere to the following:
  • General Considerations - rethink, reduce, reuse, repair, and recycle.
  • Use responsible alternatives to Styrofoam, bottled water and plastic bags.
  • Instead of purchasing new products, use recycled, repurposed or used items and materials.
  • Use alternatives to paper. (i.e. email, telephone, websites, Power Point)
  • Look for opportunities to conserve all resources. (i.e. energy, water, paper, etc.)
  • Look for opportunities to minimize waste.
  • Consider the impact (cost) of items and activities on human health and the environmental as well as the monetary cost.
  • Purchase products with minimal or no packaging
  • Have fun and be creative. Remember that we’re setting an example for others to follow.
  • Minimize paper use (ie. reduce margins, font size, paper size, print on both sides, etc.)
  • Write or print on paper with recycled content, or the blank side of used, non-confidential paper.
  • When color is needed for printed materials, use a limited amount of colored ink instead of colored paper.
  • All serving and eating utensils should be reusable, compostable or recyclable.
  • Use local and/or organic food.
  • Serve drinking (tap) water from large dispenser or pitchers.
  • If food composting available, compost all food scraps.
  • Provide at least one vegetarian food item.
  • Provide Fair Trade coffee and chocolate.
  • Encourage employees to use their own reusable beverage containers and eating utensils.
  • At special events provide sufficient and well-marked recycling bins.
  • Utilize vendors whose products, services and practices are environmentally responsible.
  • Minimize giveaways and/handouts.
  • Prizes and incentives should be locally-produced and environmentally responsible (ie. gift certificates, services, local foods, plants or produce)
  • Decorations should be made of natural, reused, repurposed, compostable or recyclable and materials
I reached out to Susan Sample, Chair of S-VAT, and asked how to get involved. She invited me to S-VAT’s monthly meeting. I knew I wouldn’t be able to commit to the meetings long-term, but I really wanted to stay informed about what was going on and what I could do to be part of raising awareness and minimizing negative effects on the environment.  After discussing this with the team, we came up with the idea of Green Champions!

Green Champions are employees throughout the organization who want to get involved with sustainability efforts. They might have ideas about how their units, departments, office buildings, etc. can implement Green Guidelines, or suggest other things that can be done. Being a Green Champion can mean simply sharing ideas with coworkers, promoting new and ongoing initiatives, or volunteering to help with S-VAT activities and events.

Do you have ideas of how Community can be more environmentally responsible or what your department can do to contribute to sustainability efforts?  Do you want to be informed about current and upcoming green events?  The Sustainability Value Analysis Team and I invite you to join the Green Champions email list by contacting Rhonda Hightower by email atRHightower@communitymedical.org.

Thank you for reading and I hope you will join me in championing green throughout our organization!

Kathryn Tinsley
Quality Management Analyst
Department of Quality Management
Community Regional Medical Center