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A no-brainer health care reform

   /   Apr 12th, 2010News

Not Your Average Heath Care News_photo

The recent health care debate has drawn attention to the industry’s proclivity for wasting time and money. But research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), shows that the industry is also accomplished at wasting energy and resources.  Mother Jones reports that the industry accounts for almost one-tenth of the United States’ carbon footprint, an environmental toll that is unnecessarily high.

The University of Chicago (U of C) Medical Center is showing it can do better.  The hospital implemented a recycling program for plastics and mandated that 90% of cleaning supplies be certified by Green Seal, a group that uses science-based standards to evaluate products, restaurants, and hotel chains for environmental friendliness.  Implementing these two measures has helped the hospital save about $20,000 in waste costs each month.  After you get over the dismay that a major U.S. hospital just figured out that recycling is a good idea, the success of the U of C effort is actually encouraging. It’s a reminder that simple steps are available to reduce our carbon footprint and our health care costs at once.

For a broader context, check out Health Care Without Harm, a movement to reform health care practices globally, or The Collaborative on Health and the Environment, a partnership working to address linkages between environmental factors and human health.

Photo: Paul Martin

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