Greening the Health System

Over 2 Tons of Plastic Bottles Diverted, Thanks to Green Team

    As part of Earth Week 2019, the Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland NICU spent one week collecting plastic formula and breastmilk bottles to set aside for recycling.  The campus does not currently have hospital-wide recycling, but the sustainability committee, also known as the Green Team, saw a unique opportunity to have a big impact.

    With three rooms, home to 36 isolettes, cribs and bassinets, the department generates hundreds of baby bottles every week. “For Earth Week the Green Team asked nurses to put empty bottles into paper bags set up on the sink islands and then empty the bags each shift into a blue bin in the dirty utility room. Nurses caught on very quickly.  Large blue bags were filling up, and soon the practice became a habit,” explains Laria Pippen, RN, Chair of the Green Team.

    Without a recycling infrastructure, nurses, including the NICU nurse manager, took the bags to recycling centers.  Once staff saw how many bottles were being thrown away, they continued the recycling collection well past Earth Week.  After many meetings with Hospitality, they placed two large recycling bins in each room and empty them each week into the campus’ recycling compactor.  Laria reports that “The Green Team was so excited to see the NICU take ownership of the collection effort and for continuing to segregate the bottles for recycling.”  From April 2019 to April 2020 approximately 2.5 Tons of bottles have been recycled.

    Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland Green Team, stirs up sustainability

    The UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland environmental stewardship committee: Green Team, is working hard to improve our impacts on the environment.  Nationwide, the healthcare industry accounts for 10% of carbon emissions, which are known to be the primary cause of climate change.

    Climate change is a health emergency!  As healthcare providers, as humans, we are responsible for helping people and this planet heal and stay healthy.  There are so many ways to do your part.

    The Green Team, a collection of staff from all areas of the hospital, is determined to create a culture of sustainability through education, events, and actions.  We have initiated a call to action to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot (compost) throughout the hospital.  Whether you work directly with patients, alongside patient care staff, or behind the scenes, this effort will take the creativity, passion, and thoughtfulness of our entire hospital community.

    On behalf of Environmental Stewardship, we invite you contribute behind the scenes or as part of the committee to develop policies and practices that will lead to better health of our patients, staff and community.  Everyone can be an environmental steward – someone who takes responsibility for the impact they are having on the environment – by reducing waste, reusing responsibly, recycling whenever possible, and composting appropriately.  We hope you will accept this call to action. Interested in contributing to this page?  We want to hear from you!  Send suggestions for content, comments, submissions and appreciations to: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).