Is going green right for you?

April 1, 2009
I acknowledge that I'm a little late to the “eco” party, only recently learning and implementing environmental measures hygienists and practices can incorporate.

by Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH, BS
[email protected]

I acknowledge that I'm a little late to the “eco” party, only recently learning and implementing environmental measures hygienists and practices can incorporate. I'm amazed at all the resources available to clinicians.

Since this column supports reducing, recycling, and reusing, I've embodied all that by providing eco-friendly lists.

Eco-hygiene tips

  • Use recycled paper products, and nonphosphoric and nonchlorinated paper products.
  • Switch from pump spray bottles to nontoxic, noncorrosive disinfectant wipes.
  • Use enzyme-based cleaners that are biodegradable.
  • Use hand dryers.
  • Use trash bags composed of recycled materials.
  • Install a high quality air filtration system.
  • Install an ionic, osmotic water system. It filters tap water so we don't have to use disposable containers filled with distilled water.
  • Use nonlatex products.
  • Use an amalgam separator. Better yet, provide tooth-colored restorations only. That's a win/win.
  • Institute a recycling program. Even paper towel tubes and toilet paper tubes can be saved and donated to local school art departments.
  • Phone, e-mail or text recare reminders instead of sending postcards.
  • Digital imaging eliminates toxic chemicals and waste.
  • Digital billing and charting will save a few forests over the duration of your career.
  • Use steam sterilization with cloth instrument wraps vs. paper and plastic autoclave bags.
  • Install reusable ceramic cups vs. paper.
  • Use reusable metal instead of plastic air/water syringes.
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs.
  • Attend paperless CE events and webinars. Ask for jump drives or CDs of course material. Why not provide jump drives for your patients with educational material and office policies?
  • If totally digital is not possible for you, then look into recycled paper for postcards, charts, and bills.
  • Say goodbye to “hygiene backside spread” with yoga vs. a treadmill.

Clinically speaking, I agree with the blogger who wrote, “Many people suffer from a defeatist sort of fatalism toward ‘going green,' failing to believe that such seemingly insignificant behavior modifications can yield an effect. But if adoption is widespread, the aggregate effect could be tremendous.”

These tips are not original and the company list is NOT all inclusive. Find out for yourself and your practice what works and doesn't work. It's all about framing. Kermit the Frog has the right idea when he says:

“It's not easy bein' green; Having to spend each day the color of the leaves; When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold, or something much more colorful like that.

“It's not easy bein' green; It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things; And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water, or stars in the sky.

“But green's the color of Spring; And green can be cool and friendly-like; And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree.

“I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful! And I think it's what I want to be.” It's Not Easy Bein' Green lyrics by Joe Rapposo

Green companies and associations include:

  • Dr. Ken's
  • Eco Dentistry Association™
  • Eco-DenT Oral Care Products
  • GreenPeople
  • Hu-Friedy Environment and Instrument Recycling Program
  • Natural Dentist
  • Nature's Gate
  • Radius
  • Restroom Guardian
  • SmartScrubs
  • Tom's of Maine
  • Weleda

(see the April edition of RDH eVillage for column links and resources)