Sustainable solutions: Focusing on a green future

April 19, 2018
Three sustainability solutions you can adopt in your office this Earth Day—and year round.
Earth Day

Samuel Adelman, O.D., is one half of the Portland Eye Care 'green team,' alongside practice sustainability officer Thomas Monahan, ABOC. To them, sustainability is a mindset that goes beyond eco-friendly implications.

"I think of the word sustainability not just in the environmental sense, but also in the sense of creating a practice that is sustainable in terms of being built for the long term," Dr. Adelman says, noting their focus on cultivating a loyal patient base and employee workforce. "This way of thinking about sustainability, of course, affects decisions we make regarding the environment as well, even though that isn't the only aspect of sustainability as we see it."

Sustainability, therefore, proves the sum of "all the little things" Portland Eye Care does to ensure it continues providing care well into the future. That includes an eco-conscious approach to their office.

Every year in April, Earth Day spurts political action and civic participation to clean up pollution and promote a healthier planet, this year launching a campaign against plastic waste. Doctors' offices can do much to reduce their footprint, and Dr. Adelman offers several solutions that can be adopted in recognition of Earth Day.

Conserve energy

Not sure to what extent your practice can adopt 'green' measures? Here's an easy one: Be energy conscious.

Dr. Adelman's practice uses LED lighting throughout to save on energy usage. Look for ENERGY STAR-rated products that use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than traditional incandescent lighting. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that replacing the five most frequently used bulbs in your home or office with ENERGY STAR-rated LEDs can save you $75 each year.

"Even without the cost savings, it helps the bottom line by giving employees something else to be proud of about our office, and probably helps to attract environmentally conscious consumers to our office," Dr. Adelman says.

Cut waste

Paper waste in a medical office may seem inevitable, but that doesn't mean there aren't ways to curb paper usage. Dr. Adelman's patient check-in and intake process is completely paperless, using an online portal and in-office kiosk, as well as implementing an EHR for recordkeeping.

Although prescriptions and insurance verification must be printed out, the practice uses at least 30% postconsumer recycled paper for printing. So, too, Dr. Adelman says the practice reuses order boxes from their local optical lab to reship orders, and patients are encouraged to drop off old glasses for donation to Lions Club or Pacific University College of Optometry's Amigos Program for people in need.

Care for the community

Beyond the routine office operations, the practice also focuses on giving back to the community through neighborhood clean-ups or 'litter patrols' with the local business association. In addition to helping keep the community clean, such events reinforce the practice's commitment to sustainability in the community's eye. That visibility is also bolstered by the sustainability officer position that Monahan holds within the practice. Portland sponsors a green initiative that charges an employee—the sustainability officer—with keeping the business mindful.

"It's a good idea to appoint a sustainability officer from the staff," Dr. Adelman says. "At least in our office, our sustainability officer, Tom, does a good job acting as my 'green conscious.' For example, if I see a bargain price on a printer that isn't from a recycled source, he'll remind me that it is not part of our plan, or he'll let me know if I forgot to turn down the thermostat, etc."

Read more about doctors of optometry doing their part to make the planet better on page 36 of the April 2016 edition of AOA Focus.

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