Care About Sustainability?
In an industry that is typically overstretched and understaffed, sustainability in caring might feel like a low priority. Sustainability, recycling, and being conscious of single-use products can seem at odds with the modern healthcare setting. To retain health and safety in medical spaces and limit infection, single-use products are heavily required upon across the world. Of course, Covid-19 has only exacerbated this problem, with a huge increase in single-use personal protective equipment.
But the medical arena is aware of the changes that need to happen; in 2020 the NHS shared their ‘Delivering a net zero national health service report’, outlining their commitment to sustainable practice and detailing the approach needed to reduce the health services’ carbon footprint. On 1 July 2022 this year, the NHS became the first health system to embed net zero into legislation through the Health and Care Act 2022, ambitiously aiming to become the world’s first net zero national health service. These approaches include: using new models of care to reduce carbon footprint, examining the supply chain and current uses of transport and travel, using innovative new technology and implementing LED light replacements.
Ways to improve sustainable practice
As the NHS looks for ways in which we can improve sustainable practice in institutionalised healthcare settings, we thought we’d have a think about a few ways we can be more sustainable in a home setting…
• When it comes to typical single-use products, try and limit their use to strictly-necessary tasks and situations. Gloves do not need to be worn to prepare food or when touching things inside the home. Washing hands regularly and well is enough.
• Sturdy reusable masks are considered to be just as effective as disposable ones, as long as you make sure you rotate clean ones regularly that you can rewash and use again. If you must use single-use masks, remember to dispose of them properly - cut off their strings (to avoid entanglement with wildlife) and put them in the bin.
• Remember to take your reusable shopping bags out shopping with you, and try to reduce the amount of plastic-wrapped produce you buy. Most supermarkets offer cheap compostable fruit bags you can put your fruit and vegetables in - keep an eye out for these and remember to bring them on each shop.
• Check your local council’s recycling rules - you may be surprised by how much can be recycled! Having a clear print out of this on the fridge or in the kitchen may come in handy so they know exactly what can be recycled.
• Growing your own vegetables and herbs at home has not only been proven to increase happiness, it’s also an excellent sustainability initiative. If you have a suitable windowsill, why not grow a few manageable greens?
• It’s important for vulnerable people to stay warm, so make sure there is a thermometer installed in the house to keep track of the temperature. (Age UK have also provided free thermostat cards). This way, if you see that the house is too warm, you can save energy by adjusting the thermostat.
• Reminders may be helpful not to leave TV, lights, heating and/or household appliances on standby, but to properly switch them off.
• Energy saving light plugs are a useful alternative at night to leaving lights on. It’s also worth checking the lightbulbs - are they LED lights? For less frequently replaced light bulbs.
We at ILA (Independent Living Advisers ) care about sustainability and will do our best to help you too. We refer suitable people locally to support older people to remain happy and independent in their own home Household Support Services for Elderly in Surrey,Sussex,Kent (ila.life).