The medical profession contributes to a lot of plastic waste, but it is absolutely necessary. We cannot reuse a plastic syringe that was used to draw blood. Since we are at the mercy of plastic in the medical field, we can make changes elsewhere in our personal and professional lives. If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you may know that I am passionate about reducing my plastic waste where I can. As I type this post at school right now, I have my reusable water bottle and coffee cup. I will be starting my clinical rotations mid-September, and I want to be prepared to be the best, eco-conscious, plastic-waste reducing student that I can be! Join me, won’t you?
- The most important “meal” of the day
A lot of rotations call for early mornings and early mornings, for me, call for COFFEE. Like, just a ton of coffee. I am guilty of leaving my house in a rush and forgetting to make my own coffee. I am also notorious for forgetting my reusable coffee cup to use at our school’s café. I now have two different mugs, that way I can always leave one at school in case of emergencies. If you forget your coffee cup, consider getting your to-go coffee in a cup but skip the plastic lid!
Preparing my own lunch is one way that I can help reduce my plastic waste. By preparing my own food, I not only know what ingredients are being used, but I also know how much plastic waste there is in preparing the food. When packing my meal for school I have silicone sandwich bags, beeswax wrap, and other plastic-free gear that I can use. In addition to the packaging, one of the most important things to remember, is the silverware! It’s so easy to forget and then have to hike up to the school’s café, buy something (that most likely comes in a plastic container), and then take some plastic cutlery. There are lots of options for reusable silverware, such as bamboo or metal. There are many different styles and storage options available as well.
One thing we use a lot of is paper. We take down notes about our patient’s clinical signs and history. We print paper to give handouts to clients, or maybe to read a scientific research article. There are many reasons that we print out paper, but one thing I would like to do is be more conscious of my printing. Is there an alternative? Would the client be willing to take an email instead of a physical copy? Can I read this article on my computer and take notes? Being more organized about my note-taking is also key. I tend to scribble all over paper in a very unorganized fashion. This means that sometimes, I don’t use up very much paper before I move on to the next page. This is wasteful, and it’s something that I recognize that I need to work on!
Whenever possible, I try to remember to recycle. Such as the case with paper, as mentioned above. If there is no alternative to using paper, remembering to recycle it when I’m done is the next best thing. If I am able to recycle some plastic material, such as the plastic casing that syringes come in, then I try to remember to do that if it’s doable.