Protecting the planet: Help create a sustainable future at Michigan Medicine

April 19, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources,

Sunday is Earth Day, a celebration of sustainability and environmental efforts across the globe.

At U-M, the entire campus community has adopted a number of environmentally-friendly initiatives in recent years aimed at reaching lofty sustainability goals by 2025.

Among the programs are efforts to reduce chemical applications, divert 40 percent of waste from the landfill through recycling and composting, and turn Michigan Stadium into a zero waste environment.

At Michigan Medicine, meanwhile, ongoing environmental efforts are gaining nationwide recognition, with the organization recently earning a Partner for Change Award from Practice Greenhealth, an organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care. It was the 15th straight year that the organization received a national honor for its environmental awareness.

Taking sustainability to new levels

On average, Michigan Medicine recycles more than 1,619 tons of materials a year on the main medical campus — that’s equivalent to 22 jumbo jets!

However, the organization wants to improve upon those numbers — and, to do so, it is set to launch a two-week study in the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital operating rooms where staff members will monitor their ability to reduce hospital landfill waste and recycle unique medical plastics such as those known as “blue wrap.”

“We are excited about this pilot program,” said Christopher Victory, senior mechanical engineer and sustainability coordinator at Michigan Medicine. “Success of this program will primarily be driven by our ability to eliminate contamination — allowing us to recycle certain plastics that we previously treated as disposable and, in turn, help the environment.”

Additionally, Patient Food & Nutrition Services has begun preconsumer composting within University Hospital, which has diverted an estimated 1,200 pounds per week from the landfill. The department had already been running a similar composting campaign in Mott and Von Voigtlander since early 2016.

“Between the two programs, we are diverting just shy of 2,000 pounds of compost per week from the landfill,” Victory said. “That’s an effort we’re proud of, though we will continue to look for ways to become even more sustainable and environmentally-friendly in the years ahead.”

How you can help

On top of supporting systemwide efforts, there are steps you can take daily to protect the environment while at work.

First, become a champion of the environment by joining the Planet Blue Ambassadors Program. By completing a quick five-minute module, any faculty, staff or student can become certified as an ambassador — giving them access to a monthly e-newsletter detailing environmental programs and events on campus, along with invitations to participate in green challenges. Ambassadors also receive a free reusable water bottle or shopping bag.

Interested? Register online by visiting the Planet Blue ambassadors website.

The university also offers a wide range of sustainable transportation options. You can consider riding a bike to work, joining a carpool or vanpool or learn where you can charge an electric vehicle on campus. All of those resources can be found by clicking here.

Finally, employees can take steps to make their office or lab designated as a sustainable workplace or sustainable lab.  All you have to do is fill out a quick self-assessment and a member of the Office of Campus Sustainability will walk you through improvements that can be made to lessen the environmental impact you and your coworkers make each day.

For more information on all sustainability efforts on campus, visit the Planet Blue website.

Thank you for playing your part in protecting the environment — and Happy Earth Day!

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