Our reception team ask: "On a daily basis, how often do you think about the rubbish you throw away and the effects it has on the environment? We are making important environmental choices all the time at Clinic 95, and I'm going to talk about why the dental industry as a whole needs to re-evaluate and implement change..
While watching David Attenborough's documentary 'drowning in plastics' I was left with the image of a single sea horse in the ocean holding onto a cotton bud, this really stuck in my head! - it was so powerful and so sad, and it made me realise how urgently - we need to make a change!
I ask myself ... Is this working? And can we do more? It was reported by the BDA (British Dental Association) ‘UK hospitals produce approximately 5.5 kg of waste per patient, per day, with disposal costing £73 million a year.’ That's an insane amount! But actually, it doesn't surprise me.
Speaking to a lab technician friend he said "Can I just highlight something from my own past which I feel very guilty about...for nine years I ran a dental lab that solely made custom made mouth guards. Over 9 years, we made just over 40,000!!!! But that’s 40,000 plastic ‘disposable’ (now a horribly misleading word) that are in landfills. Did you know that a plastic tray can take up to 450 years to biodegrade!!"
There are now recycling schemes out there to assist us with our oral care waste, and bonus- It’s super easy to do!
Companies such as TerraCycle provide boxes like this to dispose of any plastics in the workplace. Once full they simply collect. When the box is received on the other side the waste will be safely recycled- and you can sleep a little better at night!
One of our nurses once told me about a patient who had relocated to the UK. The patient claimed he had never used a conventional toothbrush and only ever used a Miswak. A Miswak is a chewing stick made from a twig of an arak tree. Basically, you peel off a small portion of bark from the end of the twig. Then chew on the peeled portion of the twig until it looks like a brush.
The tree itself has antiseptic properties. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the usage of Miswak.
Our CTS dental rep Ellen says "There has definitely been a rise in requests for nonplastic dental products from the dental practices I visit. A very popular product currently is the new 100% compostable and biodegradable cup."
Whilst researching for this blog I have been speaking to both the public and dental professionals and it is very apparent there is more awareness about plastics and the harm it is causing to the environment.
The dentistry world is ready to adapt their approach and certainly seems to be moving in the right direction.
We are not quite there yet but we are gathering momentum, as plastic is a safe, hygienic material that is widely available and used throughout the health industry for those very reasons – the replacement options for plastics are limited and are in high demand but we are certainly committed to being a part of the solution to this problem.
Here at Clinic 95, we have started to offer alternative sundry items to our patients. We will be making more changes as and when things become available to help reduce our wastage in the surgeries.
I think the most important thing to remember is that we all have a responsibility to the environment. We all have the power to reduce our carbon footprint and to help preserve our earth for future generations.