Try these eco-friendly holiday celebration tips

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“Go green” this holiday season and have fun doing it. Here are some tips to help you be environmentally friendly during the holidays.

  • Reduce your carbon footprint by celebrating at home instead of using fuel to travel. If you have to travel, consider driving instead of flying, carpooling with other family members, and using the most fuel-efficient vehicle.
  • 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 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 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. Look for ways to reuse them or at minimum, recycle them.
  • 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.

Think “reuse” when it comes to back-to-school supplies

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Most kids like the idea of buying new school supplies each year, but going back to school doesn’t have to be expensive. Before shelling out lots of dough purchasing new supplies, look at what was left over from last year. You may be surprised to find most notebooks, pencils, pens, erasers, and markers can be used again. Use paper bags, leftover wrapping paper, or even a couple layers of newspapers to make book covers.

Reusing school supplies not only saves money, it is better for the environment. Reusing results in less trash sent to the landfill. The plastic found in pens, folders, and calculators are produced with fossil fuels; fossil fuel emissions negatively impact the environment. Paper comes from trees; cutting trees on a massive scale is harmful to the environment.

So think “reuse” when it comes to this year’s school supplies. You can save money and teach your children what it means to be good stewards of their resources at the same time. If you must purchase a few new items, look for products made from recycled paper, plastic, and reclaimed materials.

Learn about other ways to save energy and money at Gundersen Envision.

Walk, ride, share for cleaner air

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Champion a Walk, Ride, Share for Cleaner Air employee challenge at your work place and start making a difference today!

Gundersen Health System’s Walk, Ride, Share for Cleaner Air commuting challenge gives staff incentives for biking, car-pooling, taking the bus or walking to work. Each month through the end of August, employees who participate in the challenge have a chance to win gift cards and other great prizes.

Active and alternative commuting not only promotes a healthy lifestyle, it helps reduce greenhouse emissions, which can cause illness and disease such as cancer, asthma, cardiac, and reproductive problems.

Active/alternative commuting options

  • Walking
  • Bicycle riding
  • Car pooling
  • Using mass transit transportation
  • Any other travel without driving yourself (rollerblading, skateboarding)

 

It’s OK if you are not able to actively or alternatively commute every day. Do it as often as you are able.

Start your challenge today!

Learn more about reducing energy consumption and greenhouse emissions from the environmental leaders at Envision.

Patients engage in rooftop garden planting project

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Gundersen’s Envision program not only impacts Gundersen employees but also Gundersen patients and the greater community.  Recently Envision started selling Udderly Green Organic Compost and Potting Mix in collaboration with Purple Cow Organics at Ace of La Crosse.  These products are made with plant fiber byproduct from Envision’s dairy digesters located in Wisconsin.

Originally intended as an employee engagement project, these products gave employees and community members the opportunity to learn more about the Envision program and the dairy digester projects. However, staff working in the inpatient rehabilitation unit at Gundersen saw these products as a way to engage the long stay patients in healthy and fun outdoor activities.

Pictured above is a patient planting vegetables on the rooftop garden at the hospital using the Envision potting mix with assistance from Courtney Hoeg, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).  Chef Thomas Sacksteder assists the patients in the fall season with harvesting and preparing the vegetables.  If you are interested in learning more about Envision, see the following website: www.gundersenenvision.org.

e-Waste eye openers

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The term “e-Waste” is generally applied to corporate and consumer electronic equipment that are near or at the end of its immediate useful life. e-Waste includes discarded or obsolete cell phones, computers, notebooks, computer game consoles and other electronic devices.

Did you know?

  • e-Waste represents 2% of America’s trash in landfills but it equals 70% of overall toxic waste.
  • A report from United Nations University (UNU) found that the world produced 41.8 million metric tons of e-waste in 2014 – an amount that would fill 1.15 million 18-wheel trucks. Lined up, those trucks would stretch from New York to Tokyo and back.
  • Large amounts of e-Waste are sent to China, India, Kenya where lower environmental standards and working conditions make processing e-Waste more profitable. It is reported that 80% of all Asian children have elevated levels of lead in their systems.
  • Health impacts from improperly disposed e-wasteo   Nose bleeds, seizures, child development, sinus perforations
    o   Mouth, teeth, gum damage, thyroid damage
    o   High blood pressure, irregular heartbeat
    o   Lung damage, asthma, bronchitis, cancer
    o   Kidney, liver, digestive system damage, fetus neurologic damage, ulcers
    o   Skin cancer, paralysis
    o   Death
  • e-Waste in landfills releases greenhouse gases equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 178,000 cars

What is your e-Waste contribution?

For more information, contact us at www.gundersenenvision.org.

Sources
https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-e-waste
https://www.causesinternational.com/ewaste/e-waste-facts
http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/crazy-e-waste-statistics-explored-in-infographic.html
http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/e-waste-infographic.html

Gundersen is co-founder of new purchasing marketplace

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Concerned about the use of products and services in healthcare that are potentially harmful to human health, local communities and the planet, Gundersen Health System has joined the nation’s other top leaders in healthcare sustainability to create the Greenhealth Exchange (GX).

GX is a purchasing cooperative founded by four health systems including Gundersen, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Dignity Health and Partners HealthCare along with longtime sustainability advocates Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth. GX is backed by a combined total of 60 hospitals that together represent $21.2 billion in annual revenues and more than $4 billion in purchasing power.

“Supplies and equipment have as big, if not bigger, impact on the environment as our energy use,” says Jeff Thompson, MD, executive advisor and CEO Emeritus for Gundersen Health System. “That’s why Gundersen is committed to Greenhealth Exchange. We can aggregate demand around products that will lower cost and be more sustainable.”

For more than 20 years, Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth have worked collaboratively with hospitals, health systems, product manufacturers and suppliers to drive change in the market for environmentally preferable products. GX will build on these efforts, helping hospitals overcome barriers to green purchasing by offering greater access to high-quality products at competitive prices.

GX is currently developing a network of suppliers and it expects to launch the online catalog in approximately six months. Conversations with additional major health systems are underway. Through detailed product specifications and supplier performance requirements, the unique marketplace will offer members access to the following:

  • High-quality green products brought together in one catalog at competitive prices.
  • Apples-to-apples comparisons on key product features including price and sustainability score plus health, environmental and community benefits.
  • Tracking and reporting the benefits associated with every purchase.

For more about the exchange, visit greenhealthexchange.com. For more information on Gundersen’s environmental initiatives, go to gundersenenvision.org.

Gundersen earns prestigious environmental awards

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For the 10th consecutive year, Gundersen Health System has been recognized by Practice Greenhealth for its environmental initiatives.

Gundersen received the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award and four Circles of Excellence Awards last week during CleanMed, the national environmental conference for leaders in healthcare sustainability, .

“This recognition is meaningful confirmation by our peers that we are on the right path,” explains Mark Platt, senior vice president of Business Services at Gundersen. “But we don’t do this work for the fancy awards. We do it because it is the right thing to do for our patients, their families, our staff and all the communities we serve. The work we do embodies the mission and values of Gundersen Health System.”

According to Cecelia DeLoach Lynn, member of the Practice Greenhealth Awards team, “The Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award is a competitive award, encouraging hospitals to continue their pursuit of sustainable innovation across the healthcare sector. Gundersen Health System has been identified as one of the leaders in this sector, driving sustainability and embedding environmental stewardship into the very core of its culture.”

Cecelia explains that the Circles of Excellence honor up to 10 of the highest performing hospitals in 10 areas of sustainability expertise. Gundersen has been awarded the Circles of Excellence in Leadership, Waste, Energy and Climate. “These awards highlight those hospitals that are pushing the envelope and driving innovation in sustainability performance in each sustainability category,” Cecilia explains.

“We are one of only a few healthcare organizations in the country that have sustained this high level of environmental stewardship and been recognized for a decade or more,” says Tom Thompson, sustainability coordinator at Gundersen. “While this is a great accomplishment, our work isn’t finished. We are always coming up with new projects and initiatives as we continuously improve projects and processes for even better outcomes.”

To learn more about Gundersen’s Envision program, go to gundersenenvision.org.