Two tricks to create less waste

March 7, 2018
Heather E. Lewis, AIA, NCARB
Heather E. Lewis, AIA, NCARB

Heather Lewis, AIA, NCARB, is a partner at Animal Arts, an architecture firm in Boulder, Colorado and frequent HospitalDesign360 conference speaker. She's a lighting geek and a (seriously) devoted advocate of minimizing pets' stress and anxiety during their veterinary visits. She has designed practices and shelters that range in size from 1,200 square feet to 110,000 square feet. During grad school (as a break from architorture) she trained miniature horses to pull carts!

Cutting down on waste is possible for anyone, including veterinary professionals. Here are some quick changes you can make to reduce the impact at your practice.

(Shutterstock.com)Trying to produce less waste at your veterinary practice can seem daunting. The trick is to take small steps and make small changes until you're better and greener than ever. The environment will thank you, and you'll have the pleasure of knowing you're making the earth a better place. When it comes to producing less waste in your veterinary practice, there are a few suggestions I'd make.

First thing's first: You need to recycle. Even in more eco-friendly places like Boulder (where our office is located), it's a struggle. We have a recycling wall of shame at our firm to try and motivate ourselves to constantly improve. It might feel like that will make you seem like a nag, but keep in mind that most people want to help the environment. They just need to be reminded how easy it is to recycle.

Less waste for your patient's … waste

Cleaning up waste from your pets and patients produces more waste when you use a plastic bag. And BioBags are expensive. Believe me, I'm aware. There are other, more affordable options when it comes to compostable bags, however. Take UNNI, for instance. They have a range of products for anything from bagging compost to bagging feces. Just a quick heads up: They're not like Hefty bags, so you probably still need to use plastic for cat feces and heavier compost. For the most part, though, they make for a great plastic bag replacement.

Second, start to attack veterinary waste. There are tons of easy switches you can make in your veterinary practice, like choosing to go mercury-free. To help find inspiration, take a look at human medicine and the changes hospitals have made to become greener.

It's as simple as taking a second thought about what you're using-what's reusable and what isn't. For example, you could ditch the paper bowls you use to sterilize tools and stick to steel bowls, so long as they're completely sanitized after every use.

Producing less waste and becoming more environmentally friendly in the process is just like any new habit: Once you get started, you'll gain momentum and motivation. It becomes infectious, and soon you'll be thinking smarter to provide better for the earth, your patients and yourself.

Heather Lewis, AIA, NCARB, is a partner at Animal Arts, an architecture firm in Boulder, Colorado. She's a lighting geek and a (seriously) devoted advocate of minimizing pets' stress and anxiety during their veterinary visits.