Built on observations and beliefs about how business and sustainability impact each other, IzzitGreen Business Rewards was founded last year to help business owners close the gap between “wanting to go green” and actually “becoming green.” The company believes that most dental business owners would wholeheartedly embrace sustainable changes if it were easier and more cost effective to do so.
Initially the company approached dental offices for two reasons. As part of the health-care and wellness industry, IzzitGreen knew that there was a strong sense of “green” already present in the dental industry. Secondly, they thought they could help the dental industry save money. Dentists tend to be standalone offices with a limited infrastructure. Dental offices can therefore benefit significantly from more cost effective business services such as credit card processing and payroll because they often don’t have the buying power to get good prices otherwise.
A sustainable dental approach can help reduce waste and pollution, save water, energy and money, is inherently innovative, can save time in day-to-day operations, and can support a wellness lifestyle that’s important to patients. As these benefits are becoming more apparent, more conventional dental practices are moving toward a sustainable approach to ensure that their negative environmental impacts are minimized while catering to consumers who share their values.
Here are five simple ways to reduce waste in your dental office presented by IzzitGreen:
1. Implement an eco-friendly sterilization program and materials
An eco-friendly sterilization program uses non-toxic infection control and steam sterilization rather than chemical-based processes. Chemicals traditionally used in infection control and sterilization can be very harmful and hazardous to human health and the environment. By reducing the use of these dangerous chemicals in your dental office, you can not only reduce your toxic waste, but also improve working conditions for your staff and facility conditions for your clients. Additionally, single use disposable autoclave wraps, disposable patient bibs, and single use sterilization items account for a significant amount of the waste produced within a dental office. Your dental office can eliminate a lot of its waste by switching to reusable pouches, wraps, and cloth-based patient bibs.
2. Use cotton towels
Another way to effectively reduce waste in your dental office is to choose reusable cotton towels over disposable plastic bibs. Cloth sterilization wraps and pouches and reusable cloth bibs are becoming a popular option in many dental practices. Maintenance is as simple as implementing a wash-dry-reuse cycle. Another recommendation is to use reusable cloth towels in your bathrooms rather than paper towels for hand drying. Although they come with numerous benefits, using cloth towels should be approached with care as they can harbor microbes if they are reused without washing.
3. Use stainless steel prophy cups and prophy paste in tubes
An article entitled "Eco-Friendly Dentistry: Not a Matter of Choice" in JCDA discusses changing consumption patterns. Use stainless steel prophy cups instead of disposable prophy-containing cups, a choice that can reduce your dental office waste and costs. The article explains how using prophy paste in tubes or tubs offers the ability to use only the amount needed as opposed to a predetermined amount that is often excessive and costly. It also recommends using stainless steel endodontics suction tips as an alternative to disposable plastic tips which can even further reduce unnecessary waste from your dental office.
4. Implement a simple recycling and waste control program
This is probably one of the simpler recommendations to implement. Your dental office can begin at the grassroots level by recycling print paper, recycling food waste in break rooms, eliminating the use of plastic bottles and cans with reusable drinking vessels, and purchasing biodegradable cleaning products. On a higher level, your dental practice may want to consider recycling the plastic and paper separately from autoclave bags, or recycling the fixer and developer solutions along with lead foil from X-rays.
5. Go paperless
Going paperless involves transitioning your office to be completely digital and eliminating the use of paper. Modern technology makes it easy for your office to communicate with patients electronically, implement electronic billing, use electronic charts rather than paper-based charts, spread information through electronic presentations, and make sure that you can easily communicate with everyone in the office via the phone and/or computer.
Mittale Suchak’s passion for eco-friendly dentistry and sustainability developed after she obtained her Bachelor of Environmental Studies, Honors Environment and Business, Co-op from the University of Waterloo, where she completed her Fourth Year Project on Eco-Friendly Dentistry. To complement her sustainability knowledge, she pursued a postgraduate environmental management and assessment program to gain practical skills and hands-on experience to make a positive environmental impact locally and globally. Visit izzitgreen.com for more information.