Planning for the holidays doesn’t have to be stressful. You can “go green” and have fun doing it! Here are some tips to help you be environmentally friendly during the holidays.
- Celebrate at home instead of traveling. This will reduce your carbon footprint. If you have to travel, consider driving instead of flying, carpooling with other family members, and using the most fuel-efficient vehicle.
- If your holidays are during the winter months, plan ahead by picking out local or organic fruits and vegetables and freezing or canning them for use at your holiday meal. Buy your meat or dairy products locally if possible. This not only supports local business, but it also decreases your carbon footprint because your food is not being transported from a distant location. So next time you drive by a local butcher shop, take a look inside!
- At the dinner table, avoid serving with disposable serving items like Styrofoam or paper. When it comes to napkins, use cloth. Not only will it look nicer, it will decrease what you put in the landfill.
- Make your own decorations from materials around the house. Not only will this save you money but the decorations will be unique and more meaningful.
- Think before you throw away containers or packaging that your holiday items came in. Can you reuse them for something or possibly even recycle them? This also helps decrease what you send to the landfill.
- Invite neighbors or friends over for the holidays. Not only would this reduce carbon footprints but it will bring you closer to those you care about.
Consider these ideas for other celebrations too. Next time you start planning for a celebration or event, think green.
Learn more at www.gundersenenvision.org.
These are just a few things you can do at work that add up and make a difference. Find other ways at gundersenenvision.org.
- Do you really need to print that document? If so print double-sided when possible
- Use natural light when available – window shades up, lights off
- Abandon elevators – burn calories not energy by taking the stairs instead
- No more disposables – bring your own water bottle, plates, cups, and silverware for your meals
- Practice using less paper towels and napkins
- Power down your computer before leaving for the day
- Know where your recycling options are
- Join a carpool
- Plant an herb garden
- Switch all your lightbulbs to CFLs (or at least switch a few)
- Create a homemade compost bin for $15
- Switch one appliance to an energy efficient model (look for the “energy star” label)
- Use reusable bags, not disposable
- Buy an inexpensive reusable water bottle and stop buying plastic disposable bottles
- Watch The Story of Bottled Water, a short movie about the bottled water phenomena
- Wash laundry in cold water instead of hot
- Turn off lights when you leave the room
- Use natural light whenever possible
- Drive the speed limit and combine all your errands for the week in one trip (better yet, walk or ride a bike to do errands that are two miles or closer)
- Support your local economy and shop at your farmer’s market
- Turn off your computer completely at night
- Research whether you can sign up for green power from your utility company
- Pay your bills online
Learn more about environmental sustainability at www.gundersenenvision.org.
Gundersen Health System nurses are undertaking a project to take the sustainability and environmental practices they use at work (through the guidance of the Envision program) home with them to broaden the impact Gundersen’s nurses can make on the environment. After targeting nurses, the project will go system wide!
One of the most widely utilized and available methods of environmental stewardship is recycling. Knowledge is power when it comes to recycling. In single stream recycling, placing the wrong item into the stream can prevent other items from being recycled. Also, throwing something into a landfill that could have been recycled is counterproductive. Get to know your town’s recycling program. If you aren’t sure where to start, and you live in the La Crosse area, look here: http://www.cityoflacrosse.org/DocumentCenter/View/8139
Recycling doesn’t just mean putting a can in the recycling bin either! You can “recycle” used items by donating to various places like Salvation Army. These are also places to think about making purchases for items that don’t need to be brand new. Why waste all the packaging and resources that are put into a brand new item, when the same gently used item serves the same purpose? Here are some ideas for places to check out:
Learn about other Gundersen Envision initiatives at www.gundersenenvision.org.
At Gundersen Health System we use blue wrap to wrap surgical instruments and trays prior to sterilization. In the past, once the surgical instruments and trays were in the OR, they were unwrapped prior to surgery and the blue wrap was thrown away. Considering that up to 22,000 pounds of blue wrap was being used each year, there was a lot of waste being produced. One of the fixes to this problem was investing in reusable hard cases for the surgical trays. However, since this was not possible for every surgical instrument, we knew that there must be a way to reuse and recycle the blue wrap.
Blue wrap is not made of cloth, it is actually polypropylene plastic (otherwise known as a # 5 plastic). Number 5 plastics can be recycled into items such as caps for bottles or medicine bottles, however we did not want to recycle all of the blue wrap, we also wanted to reuse what we could. We formed a partnership with the Coulee Region RSVP (Retired Senior and Volunteer Program), which is made up of volunteers age 55 and over. Their volunteers handcrafted the blue wrap into items such as tote bags and aprons (as pictured above), and wheel chair and walker bags that are used in the therapy department. The program started in the summer of 2011 and it is still going strong today. By reusing blue wrap we avoid purchasing items such as tote bags, which has enabled us to save money in departments throughout the health system. The most significant savings have been in the Breast Center where we have saved approximately $4,000/ year. This money can be redirected back into patient education materials. How does the blue wrap project relate to sustainability? By reusing and recycling the blue wrap, materials are kept out of the waste stream. In addition, we developed a long-lasting partnership with a wonderful volunteer program.
We can help you create sustainability projects at your organization. Find out how.
For the eighth consecutive year, Gundersen Health System has been recognized by Practice Greenhealth for their environmental initiatives through Gundersen Envision. Gundersen was awarded with Practice Greenhealth’s most prestigious achievement award during this year’s CleanMed Conference.
During the national environmental conference for leaders in healthcare sustainability, Gundersen received the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award, a new award in 2014, given to healthcare facilities that exemplify environmental excellence and are setting the highest standards for environmental practices in healthcare.
“Gundersen has been a leader in the healthcare sector for many years, winning Practice Greenhealth’s highest honors year after year for innovative work in sustainability,” says Lin Hill, director of awards at Practice Greenhealth. “They are unique in their renewable energy generation and have also been included in three of the new Circles of Excellence (Energy, Climate, and Green Building) which are presented for exemplary work in one area of sustainability. Gundersen excels in many other areas, including employee engagement and blue wrap reduction and reuse.”
“Being recognized as one of the top 25 healthcare systems when it comes to sustainability and environmental stewardship is a testament to our staff’s commitment to developing and maintaining sustainable programs,” says Tom Thompson, sustainability coordinator at Gundersen. “Demonstrating leadership in our community and the healthcare sector is important to us, and improving the health of our patients in the communities we serve is part of our system mission.”
Some of Gundersen’s recent notable sustainability achievements include:
- Solid waste recycling rate of 43 percent in 2013
- Reduced cafeteria pre-consumer food waste by more than 70 percent
- Installed biomass boiler – 38 percent of energy independence goal
- Dairy manure digesters installed and operating
To learn more about Gundersen’s Envision program, go to gundersenenvision.org.
Do you have books sitting around your house that you will never use again? Instead of throwing them away, donate them! Why? By donating books you are eliminating waste that could end up in the landfill. Someone else out there could also benefit from the books you own. So where can you donate books? One place you can donate books is the public library, however they prefer not to take text books, readers digest condensed books, and National Geographic magazines because there is not a high demand for them. If the library doesn’t need your books, they give them to groups that sell books for donations. So either way your book donation will go to a good cause.
The Goodwill and the Salvation Army accept book donations. You can also donate books to soldiers. Find out how through an online search.
There are many different ways to donate books. So do your research and find a cause you care about and donate your books. Not only will you benefit someone else, but you will also be benefiting the environment.