Nowadays, being ‘eco-friendly’ is not only good for the environment, but also a strong marketing sell. By incorporating products and actions into your dental practice that enable you to leave a smaller footprint on the environment, you show customers that you are devoted to improving the broader well-being of your community.
The one fly in the ointment is that switching to eco-friendly thinking is much easier than actually making the change. It can seem overwhelming when you begin to research all of the many creative ways that people use less plastic, save and re-use water, divert biodegradable trash from landfills, plant trees to improve air quality, reduce vehicle emissions, and protect endangered species.
But that’s why you need to start small. Pick one to three small changes you can reasonably make, then adjust them according to your preferences. In the end, there’s something uniquely satisfying about preserving a green earth for future generations.
3 Eco-Friendly Options For the Dental Practice
1. Save Your Kitchen’s Coffee Grounds
People get very frightened when they hear ‘compost.’ This one word conjures up images of giant piles of trash, unruly hippies and festering stink. But the reality of composting could not be more different than the horror stories. When done properly, it can be very discreet, no worse than regular garbage.
Compost is how we return foodstuffs and biodegradable material to the earth, creating a process that enriches the soil. Though you might find it difficult to begin composting in your dental practice kitchen, you can take a simpler and smell-free route.
Save your coffee grounds. Many universities and businesses prefer this basic composting approach. Instead of going into ugly, barely decomposing landfills, your morning brewed or Keurig coffee can promote a healthier environment.
Simply set up a small, attractive garbage bin reserved exclusively for coffee grounds and filters on the counter or near the trash. Save grounds in the bin, then have them picked up by a local community garden, organic farm, or a company that collects compost in your area. This is usually inexpensive to arrange.
If you or your staff have a home garden, you may even want to keep this ‘garden gold’ for yourself and learn how to store it to break down available nutrients.
2. Switch to Bamboo Toothbrushes & Paper Packaging
If you give a complementary toothbrush in a plastic bag to your patients after a hygiene appointment, it is relatively painless to replace both with bamboo and paper options. There are many bamboo toothbrush brands that use soft-bristles and can be purchased wholesale.
You can also buy recyclable paper bags wholesale instead of plastic. Bamboo toothbrushes and eco packaging seem luxurious from the patient perspective.
3. Distill Your Own Water
A relatively small water distilling unit can produce enough distilled water to meet your daily needs. This would be an alternative to the shipping and delivery of bottles of water, as well as the plastic waste that is produced.
You’ll need to determine if you have a convenient location where you can house the distiller and connect it to electricity/waterline. Feasibility will also depend on how many operatories you run in any given day. You can do some research on options and purchase the best unit for your practice.
How would you market a more eco-friendly practice to patients? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!