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Sustainability

Green Technology

How Green Buildings Will Change Our Architectural Landscape

May 13, 2019
green buildings

Decades ago, you didn’t hear much talk about global warming or saving the planet. It was all about building bigger and better. Studies now show construction — everything from sourcing materials to putting them together — is responsible for 23 percent of air pollution, 40 percent of water pollution and 50 percent of landfill waste.

Now, people are more aware of the Earth’s dwindling resources and are taking steps to implement green initiatives.

This growing awareness — along with sustainability becoming more profitable and desirable in the construction market — has led to a demand for more building options. In fact, experts say green building is the fastest growing industry worldwide.

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Environment

7 Composting Facts for Composting Awareness Week

May 6, 2019
composting facts

International Composting Awareness Week (ICAW) occurs during the first full week of May each year and educates the compost industry and individuals about the benefits of composting. ICAW started in 1995 in Canada and has a different theme each year, such as “Cool the Climate – Compost” for 2019.

The Composting Council, who heads up ICAW, works with businesses across the globe to create composting events for communities, such as workshops, compost give-away days and lectures from gardening experts. If you’ve been thinking about starting your own compost pile, May is the perfect time to get started. Begin by learning a few basic composting facts before moving into more aggressive sustainability approaches.

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Green Technology

What Green Healthcare Means for Medical Manufacturing

April 29, 2019
green healthcare

The term, “green healthcare,” refers to the incorporation of eco-conscious practices in healthcare delivery. Industry professionals have seen the value in these improvements, as they reduce their ecological footprint, save money and help educate members of the public on environmental stewardship.

As an example of the updates, the use of biodegradable cutlery in hospital cafeterias results in less waste. Safe cleaning agents, fewer pesticides and sustainable renovations are all a part of the green healthcare movement. In short, it’s an effort to enhance the well-being of patients while restoring the environment.

Beyond the benefits of the transition, it’ll have a transformative effect on many areas of the industry. Medical manufacturing will need to change, given the massive volume of waste from the disposal of medical supplies. Though it’s an issue of patient safety, it represents a significant problem for sustainability.

In terms of the scale of that problem, a U.S. study found that a single hysterectomy produced as much as 20 pounds of waste in packaging, drapes, plastic and related materials. The gowns, syringes, clinical instruments and other single-use items from healthcare facilities are piling up in landfills at a rapid pace.

That said, the solution isn’t as simple as reusing supplies. Health Canada and Ministry of Health standards are clear in which instruments medical professionals are allowed to reuse, and which they have to throw out. So how extensive is the issue, and what are medical manufacturers doing to adapt to green healthcare?

A Complex Problem

As mentioned earlier, healthcare professionals dispose of single-use medical products for patient safety. They also dispose of them for cost and convenience, as it’s often easier and faster to throw out a pair of scissors, for example, than resterilize and store them. This practice was common for procedures outside the OR.

In recent years, hospitals have substituted scissors and similar instruments with disposable alternatives. Even the surgical trays themselves are disposable. While this may not seem that consequential, a doctor with a piece of broken equipment will have to open a new tray and throw out the equipment in that tray as well.

Even though this waste appears excessive, it’s unfair to assign blame. When outbreaks reveal vulnerabilities in supplies which are difficult to sterilize, regulatory bodies mandate these medical instruments as single use. If they don’t, they’re placing their patients at risk by increasing the chance of future outbreaks.

Naturally, this creates a conflict. The primary goal of medical professionals is to preserve the health of their patients, but in doing so, they produce a substantial amount of non-biodegradable waste which is harmful to the environment. Fortunately, medical organizations have noticed, and they’re taking action.

A Potential Solution

Several organizations in the United States have called for higher standards of sustainability in the healthcare industry. In 2016, two NGOs and four major healthcare companies launched the Greenhealth Exchange. Its mission is to investigate and promote green alternatives for medical professionals.

Greenhealth Exchange is part of the organization, Practice Greenhealth, which seeks to help the healthcare industry embrace environmental values. Their “Greening the Supply Chain Initiative” aims to provide a common set of tools for manufacturers, suppliers and purchasers in healthcare.

Give the size and influence of Practice Greenhealth, their project will likely cause a considerable shift in the healthcare industry. As context, the nonprofit has more than 1,100 members and represents 20% of the healthcare market. They have the means to effect change on an enormous scale.

Concerning that change, Practice Greenhealth intends to develop a range of industry-specific, standard questions around the Kaiser Permanente Sustainability Scorecard. It covers all medical equipment and associated products currently in use in medical offices, hospitals and related facilities.

With this initiative, Practice Greenhealth hopes to build a database to simplify the distribution and purchase of eco-friendly medical supplies. Eventually, with updates to product evaluation and the application of new technologies, organizations everywhere will move closer to their sustainability goals.

A Glimpse of the Future

As we move toward the future, green healthcare will only grow increasingly relevant. Greater attention on sustainability will drive more healthcare institutions to seek eco-friendly alternatives to single-use medical supplies, and Practice Greenhealth will provide the information they need to make the transition.

More than that, the fourth industrial revolution has immense potential to transform manufacturing. The integration of new technologies supports innovation. While these digital trends have a mixed effect on the environment, they’ll likely prove important for green healthcare initiatives in the decade to come.

Despite the challenges of regulations and single-use medical products, organizations are coordinating to find solutions. Whether these solutions come in the form of recycled exam table paper or hemp hospital gowns, it’s exciting to speculate what we’ll see from medical manufacturers in the next several years.

A Significant Step Forward

Green healthcare is integral to increasing sustainability in medical institutions around the world. As nonprofit organizations like Practice Greenhealth push for change, and manufacturers adapt, the healthcare industry will continue to make progress. Ultimately, these efforts represent a significant step forward in the ongoing fight for environmental protection.

Oceans

10 Ways to Prevent Ocean Noise Pollution

April 25, 2019
ocean noise pollution

The average person associates the word “pollution” with carbon emissions, chemicals and debris. Pollution takes the form of smoke, exhaust from vehicles, oil spills and the discarded refuse that contaminates the country’s coastlines. By comparison, noise pollution doesn’t receive nearly as much attention.

Even so, noise pollution is just as dangerous as the more visible manifestations of pollution. In certain environments, noise pollution can even prove deadly. You don’t have to look further than our oceans to find an example of this, with ocean noise pollution causing the death of precious marine life, including whales.
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Environment

The History of Earth Day: How Has It Shaped Our Planet?

April 22, 2019
history of earth day

Every year on April 22, we collectively demonstrate support for environmental protection. Earth Day is a celebration of nature and a petition to preserve it, a time when people of all backgrounds, affiliations and cultures come together for one commonality: the planet where we live.

While it’s taken on more of an abstract purpose, Earth Day actually marks the anniversary of the modern environmental movement. The history of Earth Day begins in 1970, a pivotal year for the U.S. for a number of reasons. With all the problems plaguing the nation, pollution wasn’t at the forefront.

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Environment

Tips for Zero Waste Grocery Shopping When You Don’t Live Near a Zero Waste Grocery Store

March 28, 2019
zero waste grocery shopping

If you’ve chosen to embrace a zero-waste lifestyle, you’re making a positive contribution to the planet. Your eco-conscious actions are setting an important precedent for future generations. At the same time, the greener choice isn’t always convenient, and you might have to go a little out of your way to manage your expenditure.

But there’s no reason to worry! As long as you follow a few basic strategies for reducing waste, you’ll find it’s simple and easy to maintain a small footprint. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know, touching on seven tips for zero waste grocery shopping when you don’t live near a zero waste grocery store.

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Environment

10 Tips for Planning a Zero-Waste Wedding

March 14, 2019
zero waste wedding

Although you want your wedding to stand apart as a sentimental celebration, you also want to treat the earth right. However, you might be like many others who don’t realize how many paper products, decor accents and food items get thrown away after a couple ties the knot. Welcoming a zero-waste wedding can be your solution.

Environmental considerations during your wedding planning can have a substantial impact. Based on the 2.5 million American weddings each year, a typical wedding generates approximately 500 pounds of waste. Exchanging your vows doesn’t have to expend massive amounts of material if you choose a zero-waste wedding.

A zero-waste wedding doesn’t mean you skimp on the ambiance of the event. It means you carefully reduce your consumption and implement renewable alternatives. Check out these 10 tips for planning your green wedding.

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Green Technology

How Big Data Could Benefit Sustainability

February 28, 2019
big data sustainability

Big data provides a promising solution to many of today’s most pressing problems. Interconnectivity and predictive analysis enable researchers and scientists to address issues that were previously beyond their grasp. As computational strength continues to increase, our capacity for problem-solving increases, as well.

At the current rate of progress, IBM estimates we’ll have access to 300 times more information in 2020 than we had in 2005. While many businesses use this info to inform marketing strategies and drive profit, it has applications elsewhere. Big data shows incredible promise in the fulfillment of sustainability goals.

In this article, we’ll detail the data-driven strategies that business owners and environmental organizations have used to improve sustainability. We’ll touch on the benefits of big data for both the preservation of the planet and a company’s bottom line, showing its potential as a catalyst for positive change.

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Wildlife

How The Pet Effect Shows Why Animals Are Our Best Friends

February 14, 2019
the pet effect

People have been keeping pets for as long as tens of thousands of years. What started as a utilitarian relationship has evolved into an unbreakable friendship.

People love their pets, and most people who have them consider them family members. It’s obvious that pets make people feel good, but researchers are learning more about the positive impacts they have on health — physical, mental, social and otherwise. The positive impact pets have on our physiology, known as the pet effect, is further proof that animals are our best friends.

Here are some examples of how pets positively impact our health.

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