Gretchen E. Kaufman, DVM
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA, USA
Options and approaches for greening everyday activities in a zoo veterinary practice will be presented with major emphasis on energy, waste management, recycling, and methods for choosing materials used in common veterinary practice. Every year more than two million tons of waste is produced by medical facilities in the United States.1 While the number of zoo veterinary hospitals does not significantly contribute to this number, veterinary practices nationwide should not be left out of the larger sustainable health care movement. In most cases, changing the culture in a veterinary hospital to follow the simple rules of “reduce, reuse, recycle” can be easily implemented with minimal effort and often great savings in energy costs, waste management costs, and inventory. This requires up-front effort to systematically assess the inputs and outputs in a hospital operation and identify priority changes that will lead to more careful and less wasteful practices.
A multi-year study was conducted at Tufts' Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine hospitals to identify the most commonly used products in medical practice and their environmental and health impacts from manufacture to disposal. Alternative products were identified where possible, for products that had particularly negative impacts. A veterinary practice assessment guide was created and tested in a local veterinary clinic to help practice managers conduct their own assessment and identify areas for improvement. This information has been transformed into a website, GreenVetPractice.com (VIN editor: link was not accessible as of 1/7/2021.), that also includes basic strategies and suggested options for energy reduction, responsible water and waste management practices, and options for greening building and grounds.
1. Health care without harm. http://www.noharm.org/us/medicalwaste/issue. (VIN editor: link was not accessible as of 1/7/2021.) Accessed April 27, 2009.